Letter: Wage gap still persists

We are sending this letter to let everyone know that Equal Pay Day will be recognized Tuesday April 8. That is the day when the wages paid to the average woman catches up to the wages paid to men the previous year. There will be a rally from noon to 1 p.m. at the Daley Plaza in Chicago.

In September 2013 the U.S. Census Bureau released the 2012 gender wage gap numbers. The wage gap still stands at 23 cents. That means a woman working full time, year-round still typically takes home 77 cents for every dollar a man takes home.

The gap is even worse for women of color. According to research by AAUW (the American Association of University Women), the wage gap has remained the same since 2002.

Some would argue this gap exists because of individual choices. But when you account for all measurable decisions that might influence a person’s paycheck — college major, occupation, industry, work hours, etc. — the wage gap remains. Last year, AAUW did a study of men and women just one year out of college, a time when few women or men are making choices about having children, taking care of elderly parents or working fewer hours.

Taking into account all the factors that have been shown to affect pay, the report found that women are paid an unexplained 6.6 per cent less than men doing the same work.

The Federal Government has one solution. The US. Department of Labor has promised to provide a new tool that will collect information on salaries, wages and other benefits for employees of federal contractors. This tool is essential to give workers and employers the information they need to end pay discrimination, and it will help the Department of Labor make sure companies that are receiving our tax dollars are not guilty of wage discrimination.

The other solution is us. We need to urge the Department of Labor to speed up this effort and we also need to prod our legislators to do more to provide an equal playing field for all wage earners.

Nancie Blatt and Kay Madden

Deerfield Area AAUW Presidents’ Committee