Equal Pay Day Op-Ed
Today, Tuesday, April 9, 2013, is the national
observance of Equal Pay Day, the day when women and
men around the country recognize the wage gap between
working women and men, and offer remedies to address
pay inequity. According to statistics released in 2012
by the United States Census Bureau, women are paid,
on average, 77 cents for every dollar their male counterparts
are paid -- a gap of 23 cents.
Here in (your state), working women
do a little better than the national average. We are
paid about (your state figure) on the dollar
compared to men. That's hardly a cause for celebration,
when women and our families are being shortchanged thousands
of dollars a year and hundreds of thousands of dollars
over a lifetime.
(If your state does better than
the national 77% average, eliminate the next paragraph.
If your state does worse than the 77% average, eliminate
the paragraph above.)
It's shameful, but here in (your
state) women's pay doesn't even measure up to the
national average. We are paid just (your state percentage)
of men's pay. Women and our families are being shortchanged
thousands of dollars a year and hundreds of thousands
of dollars over the course of a lifetime.
In 2009, the number of women in the workforce exceeded the number of men, and more men than women lost jobs. With more families relying on women's paychecks for their livelihood, the US must address the wage gap for the sake of American families and their financial stability.
Here are four ways to close the pay
First, we need to keep affirmative
action programs in place to make sure education, jobs
and promotion opportunities are open and offered to
Second, employers must examine and
correct their pay practices. Employers can get help
in examining their pay practices through equal
pay self-audit guidelines from the US Department
Third, women must stand up for equal
pay and for themselves. If a prospective employer cannot
show that women and men are paid equally for the job
you're seeking, it makes sense to look elsewhere. Positive
signs includes a hiring process that seeks diversity
through affirmative action, written pay and benefit
policies, job descriptions and evaluation procedures.
A union for workers is another good sign. Women in unions
earn 35% more than women in non-union workplaces.
Women who are paid less than men must
discuss the problem with their employer. If there's
a union ask their help. If discrimination persists,
file a complaint with the local or state (name of
agency for your city or state if possible) fair
employment agencies or with the U.S. Equal Employment
A fourth way to close the pay gap
is through federal legislation such as the Paycheck
Fairness Act and the Fair Pay Act. That's not a solution
popular with employers, but it may be necessary. For
employers who continue to pay women less, legal penalties
or EEOC action may be the only remedies.
Pay equity is a growing national movement.
States around the country are introducing pay equity
legislation and women continue to recognize the importance
of this legislation. Pay inequity penalizes families
especially during times of economic hardship so we must
address it when trying to boost the economy. At the
rate we are going, the wage gap will not close for another 50 years. Women and their families cannot afford to wait
(Your name and title, organization
name, or occupation)