By LAUREN CORMIER
In the 165 years since the first women’s rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York. Women progressed a long way over the years in their fight for equality, but it is still clear that even today gender equality is a main concern, especially in the work place.
In 1963 congress passed The Equal Pay Act, which, in simple terms, enforced equal pay for equal work. They passed in 2009 the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which gives employees a feasible amount of time to file a lawsuit for paycheck discrimination. Today, there are many advocates for The Paycheck Fairness Act, though it is yet to be passed by Congress.
The Paycheck Fairness Act is a comprehensive bill that strengthens the Equal Pay Act. Most businesses prohibit employees from discussing their wages and yearly salaries. This legislation would make it legal for employees to question or inquire about salary differences or wage gaps. Something else useful in the Act is the development of a grant program for the education and training of women to aid in minimizing salary differences.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012 full-time employed women earned just 80.9 percent of the salaries of their male counterparts. This number dropped since 2011, where 82 percent was found. Since 2005, these numbers changed very little. Are these numbers accurate representations of inequality? Or could they be misleading values that haven’t taken into account other factors?
The National Committee on Pay Equity claims that women make only 77 cents to every dollar earned by men. Although many people believe these differences exist, there are still some who argue that by looking into the studies, the reasons for these differences is due to the different choices and decisions women and men make in regards to working.
Many factors come into play including differences in job experience, tenure, spending less time at work, taking off to raise a family as well as career choices and directions amongst others.
Some studies that have taken this into account found that the pay gap decreases significantly. Some studies even suggest that there is no pay gap difference present at all. In 2009 the Labor Department conducted a survey and found that the pay gap “may be almost entirely the result of the individual choices being made by both male and female workers.”
Even though there are always two sides to every story, that does not mean that sexism is not a major problem in the workplace in this day and age. The Paycheck Fairness Act can only help to decrease this sexism and further progression towards equality for women.