There are many who skeptically hear that a woman has to work until April 9, 2013, to have earned what a man earned by the end of 2012.
People who don’t believe the statistics claim that when adjustments are made for women’s career choices or the change in earnings since the recession, women are making as much if not more than men.
People who believe the statistics are angry and exhausted, noting that 50 years after President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, women still aren’t receiving equal pay for equal work.
The American Association of University Women is one organization that has done extensive research into the numbers. It says: After accounting for college major, occupation, industry, sector, hours worked, workplace flexibility, experience, educational attainment, enrollment status, GPA, institution selectivity, age, race/ethnicity, region, marital status, and number of children, a 5 percent difference in the earnings of male and female college graduates one year after graduation was still unexplained.
Let’s be clear. Women are making less for reasons that can’t be explained other than the fact that they are women and not men. And if they’re black or Hispanic women, they’re making even less than white women.
You can choose not to believe the statistics, but it’s not to your advantage to do so. If the recession has taught us anything, it is that circumstances can change in an instant and it can suddenly matter that the woman in the family won’t be able to earn as much in her job as the man can earn in his.
The wage gap has long-term effects on women’s economic security. Women are far more likely to enter poverty in old age for these reasons: 1) Since women earn lower pay over their working career, they will receive lower Social Security and/or pension benefits. 2) It has been proven that women live longer than men so they have to stretch less income over a longer period of time.
With so much at stake, instead of fighting over the statistics, why don’t we fight for transparency? If companies posted their salaries, or if workers could discuss their salaries with one another without incurring company wrath, workers could negotiate salary adjustments themselves and people debating the salary statistics could do so with better information.
It’s important that we don’t allow false or confused information to muddy analysis of a situation that is critically important to every family in America. Pay Equity Day events will take place onTuesday and Wednesday and are supported by YWCA Northeast Indiana, the League of Women Voters, the Women’s Bureau and AAUW.
Let’s mark the occasion with useful conversation and thoughtful discussion. We owe that to the women in our lives.