Paycheck Fairness Act is necessary
Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 15:06
Have you ever felt less than adequate, like you don’t matter as much as someone else? Or that no matter how hard you work, you will simply never be good enough? Unfortunately, this is the grim reality that women in the workforce face on a daily basis.
College tuition rates are the same for female and male students, yet a female’s degree is somehow worth less than those handed to her fellow male graduates. With equal education and equal knowledge, she can still expect to earn a substantially lower salary than her male counterparts.
Despite all of the strides made by the women’s movement, and all of the equality efforts made in Congress, the U.S. Census Bureau and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research report that on average, women make 77 cents for every dollar a white male makes. Equal Pay Day was created in 1996 to symbolize the day a woman in the same job as a man will finally earn the same amount of money that a man had earned at the end of the previous year. This year’s celebration, if you want to call it that, was April 17. Women worked four months into 2012, and by this time, they finally caught up to what a man made in 2011.
There is no getting beyond the fact that pay disparity is still a huge issue in the United States. It hits all women hard and is particularly harsh on women of color. While the average white woman makes 77 cents per every male dollar, African American women only make 61 cents and Hispanic women make as little as 52 cents. The fact that this is happening in 2012 is truly astounding. Hardworking and diligent women getting paid less for doing the exact same jobs as men is discrimination, plain and simple.
Statistics show that women work hard for the money that they earn. In March, a new study by Art Papas of the software company Bullhorn showcased current trends about women in the workplace. The survey, “theFIT Report on Workplace Culture” uncovered that 54 percent of women report working more than nine hours a day whereas only 41 percent of men said that they do the same. It was also reported that 67 percent of women are willing to do work while on vacation opposed to 60 percent of men. Only 14 percent of women have reported falsely claiming to be sick while 20 percent of men reported they’ve faked being sick to get out of work.
With all of this information clearly showing that women work just as hard, if not harder, than men, the opposition to the Paycheck Fairness Act is truly baffling. Not all women have children, as some have suggested. Maternity leave itself is not an accurate reason for the gender gap. Does it impact those men who take paternity leave? Eight or 12 weeks off of the job do not determine a career! The Paycheck Fairness Act would have ensured that women are paid equally to men for equal work. It would have expanded upon the Equal Pay Act of 1963, and it would have protected women from wage discrepancies. Employers would have been required to show that any pay disparity was not due to gender discrimination.
The Paycheck Fairness Act is just that — a step on the road to workplace fairness. It would’ve also expanded upon the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the first piece of legislation signed into law under President Barack Obama. Sadly, the Paycheck Fairness Act fell short in the Senate, gaining only 52 votes and needing 60 to move forward. Not a single Republican senator voted in favor of the bill. Mitt Romney has refused to even reveal his stance on the matter. (And people still claim that there is a “fake” war on women?) Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said, “It will take us 45 years at this pace to get equity in the workplace when it comes to our paycheck.”
Women simply cannot afford to make less than men, especially in this economic climate. The days of Leave it to Beaver are long over, despite what Republican party talking heads would like us to believe. As we all know, whether by choice or circumstance, women are often the primary breadwinners for families. The recent census showed an increase of female heads of households of more than 18 percent in the last decade alone. Should their American dream and those of their children continue to be limited because of gender discrimination? I say to my female friends and fellow students — do you feel less than the men you sit next to in class? Like you don’t matter as much as they do? Are you willing to accept that no matter how hard you work, you will never make the same amount of money that they do? If not, remember the failure of the Paycheck Fairness Act when you go into the voting booth in November. I will. Women are worth more than 77 percent of a man.
Anyone interested in writing a column for the Opinions section at the Central Florida Future can contact the Opinions Editor, Kaley LaQuea, at firstname.lastname@example.org.