FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A New Way to Close the Gender Pay Gap

Once again, Equal Pay Day is approaching. Never heard of it? If you’re a working woman or someone who cares about the working women in your life, you need to study up.

Equal Pay Day is the day in any given year when women working full-time, year-round catch up to men’s earnings from the previous year.

Let’s say the average man made $35,000 last year, from January 1 to December 31. The average woman working the same amount of time made $27,300. It will take her until April 4 of this year to amass the same earnings the guy made by the end of last year. So Equal Pay Day is April 4 this year.

But there’s more.

Broken down by race, African-American women won’t meet the benchmark until August. Native American women must wait until September. And Latino women will lag even further — until November.

Pay discrimination based on sex has been illegal since the Equal Pay Act was passed way back in 1963. Still, the pay gap remains at 22 cents on the dollar for full-time, year-round work, and it hasn’t moved in over a decade. At that pace the gap won’t close until 2059, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

Meanwhile, employers who discriminate against their women workers can just sit back and dare them to sue. Go ahead and hire a lawyer, the bullies seem to say. Drag us through the courts for a dozen years — if we don’t fire you first. (Retaliation is illegal too, but who’s watching?)

There are a number of reasons for the pay gap that don’t have anything to do with qualifications or education. One is historical discrimination.

For most of our history, it was legal to pay women less for the same job — employers were even allowed to advertise that fact. Another reason is that employers historically undervalue “women’s jobs,” like providing day care and nursing, as compared to “men’s jobs,” like dog pound attending and auto repair.

Another problem is lack of transparency. Employers aren’t required to disclose their workers’ pay, and in many workplaces it’s against the rules to talk about it with co-workers. So women can’t find out what they’re making compared to men on the same job.

But in a bizarre twist on the “don’t ask, don’t tell” rules that shield employers, it’s customary for companies to ask for salary history and use that information to set wages for new hires.

For job seekers who’ve been earning less than their counterparts and working below market rates — primarily women — pegging new wages to old ones maintains the discriminatory practice. Wage gaps that begin early can follow workers all their working lives.

There’s a growing bipartisan consensus that a simple change in the hiring process — prohibiting employers from asking job seekers how much they’re currently paid — can make a real difference in closing the gender wage gap. Instead, salary offers should be based on the market value of the position and the candidate’s credentials, not their current salary.

To date, two states (Massachusetts and New York) and four cities (New York, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Pittsburgh) have passed legislation along these lines. The bills differ in that some apply only to public employers in the jurisdiction, while others apply to all employers, public and private.

With no prospects in sight for the federal government to do anything to close the gender pay gap, innovation by states and cities is welcome news. If more follow suit, maybe we won’t have to wait until 2059 to finally stop marking (Un)Equal Pay Day.

Martha Burk is the director of the Corporate Accountability Project for the National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO) and the author of the book Your Voice, Your Vote. Follow Martha on Twitter @MarthaBurk.

Distributed by OtherWords.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
August 17, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Daniel Wolff
The Aretha Dialogue
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump and the Rise of Patriotism 
Joseph Natoli
First Amendment Rights and the Court of Popular Opinion
Andrew Levine
Midterms 2018: What’s There to Hope For?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Running Out of Fools
Ajamu Baraka
Opposing Bipartisan Warmongering is Defending Human Rights of the Poor and Working Class
Paul Street
Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People
David Macaray
Trump and the Sex Tape
CJ Hopkins
Where Have All the Nazis Gone?
Daniel Falcone
The Future of NATO: an Interview With Richard Falk
Robert Hunziker
Hothouse Earth
Cesar Chelala
The Historic Responsibility of the Catholic Church
Ron Jacobs
The Barbarism of US Immigration Policy
Kenneth Surin
In Shanghai
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
The Military Option Against Venezuela in the “Year of the Americas”
Nancy Kurshan
The Whole World Was Watching: Chicago ’68, Revisited
Robert Fantina
Yemeni and Palestinian Children
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Orcas and Other-Than-Human Grief
Shoshana Fine – Thomas Lindemann
Migrants Deaths: European Democracies and the Right to Not Protect?
Paul Edwards
Totally Irrusianal
Thomas Knapp
Murphy’s Law: Big Tech Must Serve as Censorship Subcontractors
Mark Ashwill
More Demons Unleashed After Fulbright University Vietnam Official Drops Rhetorical Bombshells
Ralph Nader
Going Fundamental Eludes Congressional Progressives
Hans-Armin Ohlmann
My Longest Day: How World War II Ended for My Family
Matthew Funke
The Nordic Countries Aren’t Socialist
Daniel Warner
Tiger Woods, Donald Trump and Crime and Punishment
Dave Lindorff
Mainstream Media Hypocrisy on Display
Jeff Cohen
Democrats Gather in Chicago: Elite Party or Party of the People?
Victor Grossman
Stand Up With New Hope in Germany?
Christopher Brauchli
A Family Affair
Jill Richardson
Profiting From Poison
Patrick Bobilin
Moving the Margins
Alison Barros
Dear White American
Celia Bottger
If Ireland Can Reject Fossil Fuels, Your Town Can Too
Ian Scott Horst
Less Voting, More Revolution
Peter Certo
Trump Snubbed McCain, Then the Media Snubbed the Rest of Us
Dan Ritzman
Drilling ANWR: One of Our Last Links to the Wild World is in Danger
Brandon Do
The World and Palestine, Palestine and the World
Chris Wright
An Updated and Improved Marxism
Daryan Rezazad
Iran and the Doomsday Machine
Patrick Bond
Africa’s Pioneering Marxist Political Economist, Samir Amin (1931-2018)
Louis Proyect
Memoir From the Underground
Binoy Kampmark
Meaningless Titles and Liveable Cities: Melbourne Loses to Vienna
Andrew Stewart
Blackkklansman: Spike Lee Delivers a Masterpiece
Elizabeth Lennard
Alan Chadwick in the Budding Grove: Story Summary for a Documentary Film
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail