Happy (Un)Equal Pay Day!

Photo: Wikimedia Commons


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.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.