women are asked to rank the issues that are most important
to them, fair pay continually surfaces among the top
concerns. The issue resonates strongly with both men
as well as women. Although majorities of voters from
all demographic focus groups indicate support for pay
equity, women and people of color are most passionate
about the need to address this issue.
Following is polling data collected
from throughout the 1990s and the year 2000 demonstrating
several consistent themes: (1) the acknowledgment that
women are not paid fairly; (2) that equal pay is a top
workplace concern; and (3) that workers are receptive
to solutions that provide economic equality.
for Policy Alternatives and Lifetime Television, "Women's
Voices 2000," September 2000.
The Center for Policy Alternatives and Lifetime Television
commissioned a series of focus groups and a bipartisan
national poll to analyze women's views during the 2000
election cycle. Equal pay was the top workplace concern.
Ninety-three percent (93%) of African American women,
91% of Latinas, 90% of Asian American women and 87%
of white women said equal pay and benefits for women
should be one of the top policy priorities in the United
Woman Magazine, "Paycheck Checkup," May 2000
To mark Equal Pay Day, Working Woman Magazine conducted
an on-line poll with questions about the wage gap. Based
on 300 respondents, 83% thought that the pay gap was
generally a problem; 51% said their employer pays them
less than a man would earn for doing the same job, and
53% attributed the pay gap to the employer's view of
women as lacking in commitment.
Working Woman's Department, "Ask a Working Woman,"
Across the board, women responding to the Ask A Working
Woman 2000 survey said that stronger equal pay laws
should be the number one legislative priority. Nine
out of ten (87%) working women said stronger equal pay
laws are important, with 51% saying they are very important.
The poll found that women of color and low-income women
felt especially strong about fair pay: 58% of African
American women, 61% of Hispanic women, and 59% of low
income women ranked the issue as very important.
and Professional Women/USA, National Poll, September,
This poll of 800 likely voters asked respondents whether
they thought women and minorities were paid less for
the same work as their white male counterparts. Overwhelmingly,
voters from both sides of the political aisle said yes.
Sixty-five percent of those likely to vote for the GOP
in 2000 and 77% of likely Democratic voters believe
women and minorities are paid less than white men for
the same work. Broken down by gender, 60% of male voters
and 78% of female voters said women and minorities are
paid less. The poll was conducted by the bipartisan
team of Frank Luntz and Jennifer Laszlo.
The Washington Post,
the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University,
"Reality Check/The Gender Revolution," March,
In this comprehensive survey
about gender, work and family issues, the Post found
large numbers of both sexes saying that they believe
women are paid less than men for similar work. Two-thirds
of the men and 80% of the women believe women face pay
discrimination. A majority of women and more than four
in ten men believe that a major reason why women do
not advance to top-level executive and professional
positions is because men don't want women to get ahead
in the workplace.
NOW Legal Defense and
Education Fund, "Women's Lives: A Perspective for
the 21st Century," 1998.
In this series of eight focus groups conducted around
the country, women were asked open-ended questions about
their most pressing concerns and the changes that would
improve life for themselves and their families. One
of the top priorities cited was equal treatment in the
workplace, and equal pay for equal work was an emphatic
refrain in every focus group. Participants were acutely
aware of the wage gap, saying it signifies the lack
of respect for women in the workplace. The report noted
that many of the women told personal stories of being
paid less than men doing the same job, and most others
knew of women who experienced discrimination. Participants
expressed concerns that the wage gap affects families
as well as individual working women, especially when
considering that so many households are headed by women.
"Ask a Working Woman Survey," September, 1997.
This survey of 50,000 working women found that equal
pay was the top concern of women in the workplace. When
asked to rate the importance of various issues and benefits
on the job, equal pay was the highest rated issue, with
99% calling it important and 94% calling it very important.
Yet nearly one-third said their jobs did not provide
equal pay for equal work. In an open-ended question,
two out of five (41% percent) cited pay as the biggest
problem facing women at work, including one in six (17%)
who said "equal pay." An additional 24% cited
low pay, gender discrimination, and/or the glass ceiling
for Policy Alternatives and Ms. Foundation, "Women's
Voices: 1996 Focus Groups," September, 1996.
This national opinion poll found that the two biggest
problems facing women at work are combining work and
family and receiving equal pay for equal work. Twenty-five
percent (25%) of women cited fair pay as their biggest
hurdle. Women ( 82%) and men (70%) believe overwhelmingly
that women are paid less than men for the same work.
Enforcing equal pay laws and raising wages are women's
top priorities for making their pay more equal to men's.
"A Nationwide Survey Among Union Members and the
General Public on Politics and Legislation," April
and May, 1995.
This survey found that the economic changes between
1985 and 1995 and the reduced security they produced
for most workers continued to be the defining element
of the nation's political environment. When asked to
prioritize legislative issues, 78% of the general public
ranked "strengthening laws that require equal pay
for equal work among women," as very important,
making it the most highly ranked priority.