Happy (Un)Equal Pay Day!

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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It’s National Equal Pay Day, a misnomered holiday that marks the 110 extra days the average woman must work in 2010 to get what an average man earned in 2009. Today Lilly Ledbetter along with Senators Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) took to the White House blog to endorse legislation that will effectively penalize pay discrimination based on gender. From Dodd:

Women still earn just 77 cents for each dollar a man earns. The average woman in my state of Connecticut needs a bachelor’s degree just to earn what a man with a high school diploma earns. The gap is larger in the African-American and Hispanic communities, it persists across the income spectrum, and, astonishingly, in some occupations it’s actually getting worse with time…

Dodd went on to explain that factors like educational background, job characteristics, and ethnic and racial background don’t account for the wage gap. It is solely based on gender.

In the Huffington Post Ledbetter outlines the effects this discrimination has on American families:

The fact is millions of Americans are dependent on a woman’s paycheck just to get by, put food on the table, pay for child care, and deal with rising health care bills. Two-thirds of mothers bring home at least a quarter of their family’s earnings. In many families, the woman is the sole breadwinner. On average, women lose an estimated $700,000 over their lifetimes due to unequal pay practices, and this inequality means real hardships for their families.

That’s why we need to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA).

It’s good news and it’s about time!

Last year, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act reversed the Supreme Court decision that blocked women from fighting pay discrimination in court. But the Act did not require companies to offer equal pay for equal work, which is where the Paycheck Fairness Act comes in. By requiring employers to prove that any disparities in pay between women and men are solely job-related, the act offers gender equity and accountability that’s been lacking in the work place. It’s a shame it’s taken this long for the legislation to hit the Senate’s floor. But it’s even more ridiculous that in 2010 owning a uterus dictates a women’s worth at work.

Follow Titania Kumeh on Twitter.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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