Equal Pay Day highlights persistent wage disparity

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For most working stiffs, Tuesday came and went just like any other weekday.

But it also had some significance of its own. Known as Equal Pay Day, April 12 marked the date in 2011 when women's pay caught up to what men made the previous year.

“It’s a really good way for people to visualize the discrepancy” between men's and women's wages, said Jennifer Pope-Baker, director of the Women’s Fund of Central Indiana. 

The Washington, D.C.-based National Committee on Pay Equity organized the annual recognition day in 1996 to draw attention to the gap, which the group says has been closing at a rate of less than a half-cent a year since the federal Equal Pay Act passed in 1963. At that time, women made 58.9 cents for every dollar paid to men.

The most recent statistics available show women nationally earn an average of 80 cents to every dollar men make. In Indiana, women working full time are paid an average of $31,762 per year while men earn an average of $43,631 annually, U.S. Census Bureau statistics show.

Advocates are making progress, however. A bill known as the Paycheck Fairness Act has been reintroduced in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives after stalling in the Senate last year.

Supporters say the legislation would provide a needed update to the 1963 law by requiring employers to demonstrate that wage differences between men and women performing the same work stem from factors other than gender. It also would provide workers with the means they need to ensure equal compensation, including fair remedies, additional enforcement tools and technical assistance and training for both employers and employees.

Critics deny gender is a factor in the pay disparity, saying the difference typically has more to do with the jobs workers perform. And opponents of the legislation have said the bill would result in more lawsuits, which would be expensive for businesses to fight.

Despite the push for equal pay, many local women don't know about the 5-year-old awareness day.

Count successful Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer Linda Pence among them.

Though she admittedly earns a better salary than many of her male counterparts, her rise to the top of the legal profession was hardly an easy climb.

“I had to fight and claw my way to the top,” she said.

Pence recalled her days as a young law clerk in 1972, when she earned $95 a week, only to discover that her male colleagues were earning $100 a week. Though the disparity was just $5, Pence raised the issue with her boss and was awarded the difference.

“If you have good employees and you pay them in a disparate fashion, you’ll lose their loyalty,” she said.

Myra Borshoff also was unaware of Equal Pay Day. Yet, the owner of Borshoff, the city’s largest public relations firm, supports the campaign.

Her company has 49 employees, 35 of whom are women.

Borshoff thinks instances of pay disparity occur more often at the management level than in lower-level positions.

“As you move up the ladder, those lines tend to get fuzzier and fuzzier,” she said.

Borshoff said she never experienced pay discrimination during her career and thinks women are making progress.

“Not that there isn't more work to be done,” she said, “but I believe, for the most part, we’re making progress.”



  • What facts?
    To FishersMom: If you are highly educated like you say, you would have used the word "don't" instead of "doesn't" in your third sentence. These "facts" are inconclusive. Like Toby12 stated, the old adage "comparing apples and oranges" fits well here. BTW, I am a female who doesn't make much money.
  • Vague Stats
    Until there is an equal number of male and female teachers, nurses, business owners, etc then stats can be made to say anything.

    I cheer for women who stand up for the rights that they should already have, but these equal pay stats are vague and misinterpreted.

    Those who stand up for equal rights, I support...they are oout to make the world a better place for every person.

    Feminists on the other hand are women who are just plain bitter that they are not men.

  • Study Labeled "Flawed"
    There are two sides to most stories. The study that Don the 14%er refers to has been labeled as "flawed" by other researchers. Read their thoughts at http://www.womensenews.org/story/women-in-science/110218/flawed-study-dismissing-job-bias-thrills-media . Are you open-minded enough to read it and consider its points or do you tend to automatically rule out new knowledge in favor of your unexamined ideologies (a tendency all too prevalent today)?
  • feminists again
    Read the Wall Street Journal article (link is below) that Don sent with his reply. Also, read the response from MaleMatters. A very good point is presented. The feminist groups need to find something else to do than to complain about wages. BTW: Can you imagine the improvement in the unemployment rate AND the benefit to society if more women would raise their own children instead of going to work each day? Both would improve. Just a thought from someone who has lived through both the old system and the current one.


  • Apples and Oranges
    I believe that there continues to be job disparity between men and women, but the data above is really inconclusive.

    I would offer that in order to make a more fair comparison, that the following factors be included in any assessment:

    ----Job Titles (but verification needed across companies and industries, as responsibilities vary across both, and major corporations tend to pay more than start-ups, etc.)
    ----Starting Salaries at the time of hire.
    ----Years on the job, as longer tenured employees tend to make more money than shorter tenured employees.
    ----Other variances also need to be factored in, including breaks in employment, e.g. in our culture, many women can/could? take more frequent and longer breaks in employment due to child rearing. I'm not saying this does occur, but the data should be assessed in making any further comparisons.
    ----Assessing education pool availability of women vs men in any job category.
    ----I am sure there are other factors as well, but coming to conclusions before these and other factors are considered doesn't paint the full story in either measuring progress or in identifying areas of true discrimination.

    Hope this helps.
  • Really?
    Note that the two people responding negatively to the story are men--not surprising. Yes, some women do choose to be stay-at-home moms but many others want the same opportunities as men in the workplace. The old arguments about women choosing careers that are traditionally lower paid doesn't hold water anymore. We are highly educated and have the skills to make a difference in the world if we are given the same opportunities for advancement.
  • Why women's pay is "unequal"
    No legislation yet has closed the gender wage gap â?? not the 1963 Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, not Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, not the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, not the 1991 amendments to Title VII, not affirmative action, not diversity, not the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, not the countless state and local laws and regulations, not the horde of overseers at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission..... Nor would the Paycheck Fairness Act work.

    That's because pay-equity advocates, at no small financial cost to taxpayers and the economy, continue to overlook the effects of this female AND male behavior:

    Despite the 40-year-old demand for women's equal pay, millions of wives still choose to have no pay at all. In fact, according to Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of "The Secrets of Happily Married Women," stay-at-home wives, including the childless who represent an estimated 10 percent, constitute a growing niche. "In the past few years,â?? he says in a CNN August 2008 report at http://tinyurl.com/6reowj, â??many women who are well educated and trained for career tracks have decided instead to stay at home.â?? (â??Census Bureau data show that 5.6 million mothers stayed home with their children in 2005, about 1.2 million more than did so a decade earlier....â?? at http://tinyurl.com/qqkaka. If more women are staying at home, perhaps it's because feminists and the media have told women for years that female workers are paid less than men in the same jobs â?? so why bother working if they're going to be penalized and humiliated for being a woman.)

    As full-time mothers or homemakers, stay-at-home wives earn zero. How can they afford to do this while in many cases living in luxury? Because they're supported by their husband.

    Both feminists and the media miss â?? or ignore â?? what this obviously implies: If millions of wives are able to accept no wages and live as well as their husbands, millions of other wives are able to accept low wages, refuse overtime and promotions, take more unpaid days off, avoid uncomfortable wage-bargaining (http://tinyurl.com/45ecy7p) â?? all of which lower women's average pay. They are able to do this because they are supported by a husband who must earn more than if he'd chosen never to marry. (Still, even many men who shun marriage, unlike women, feel their self worth is tied to their net worth.) This is how MEN help create the wage gap. If the roles were reversed so that men raised the children and women raised the income, men would average lower pay than women.

    See â??A Response to the Ledbetter Fair Pay Actâ?? at http://tinyurl.com/pvbrcu

    By the way, the next Equal Occupational Fatality Day is in 2020. The year 2020 is how far into the future women will have to work to experience the same number of work-related deaths that men experienced in 2009 alone.
    See http://blog.american.com/?p=30031
  • Pay gap is a myth
    The gender pay gap is not due to discrimination! See http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704415104576250672504707048.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

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