Editorial: Women's Inequality Month03/15/2022 03:10PM ● By Richard Gaw
“The enormous difference between fighting gender discrimination as opposed to race discrimination is good people immediately perceive race discrimination as evil and intolerable. But when I talked about sex-based discrimination, I got the response, 'What are you talking about? Women are treated ever so much better than men!’”
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, 1993-2020
In his remarks proclaiming March 2022 as Women’s History Month, President Joe Biden said, “As we reflect on the achievements of women and girls across the centuries and pay tribute to the pioneers who paved the way, let us recommit to the fight and help realize the deeply American vision of a more equal society where every person has a shot at pursuing the American dream.”
Let us introduce the President to another reality by introducing two fictional examples.
Somewhere in West Chester, there is a man who serves as chief cook and bottle washer for a mid-sized company. Somewhere in West Grove, there is a woman who also serves as the chief cook and bottle washer for a mid-sized company.
Their similarities likely end right there.
· According to statistics recently compiled in a report by Business.org., men earn 20 percent more than women for performing an identical job. Translated, a woman effectively stops getting paid in late October for a job she performs at the same level – or even higher – than her male counterpart.
· The report said that Pennsylvania ranks 34th out of 50 states for the smallest gender pay gap, and that women in the Commonwealth earn an average salary of $47,059 while men earn an average salary of $59,311 – $12,252 more. Added up over the course of a career, that number can total nearly a half million dollars in lost earnings.
· No state in the country pays women more than men, with closing the gap coming to a stalemate over the last decade. Since 2010, the national wage gap has hovered between 18 percent and 19 percent between the salaries of men and women in similar positions, showing little progress across the nation for pay equity.
· Even the states with the smallest gender pay gap still face wage gaps ranging from 8.1 percent to 15.3 percent between men and women in similar roles, which translates to thousands of dollars missing for women doing the same work.
· In a 2016 report issued by the Joint Economic Women Democratic staff, women of color face even larger gender pay gaps. Compared to white men, African-American women, on average, are paid only 60 cents on the dollar and Latinas are paid only 55 cents on the dollar.
· Although the gender pay gap has narrowed over time, at the current rate of change it will not close until 2059, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, and it is estimated to take 257 years to close worldwide.
Welcome to Women’s History Month, one of the most insulting acts of airbrushing currently being masqueraded as appreciation, camouflaging the facts with stories about heroes, and underlying the truth that women do not need a month in which to be celebrated for their accomplishments.
Women need to be paid as equally as men.
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In the U.S. economy and in other civilized countries of the world, the demonstrative gap in pay between women and men is systemic discrimination at its most abusive, the result of the lingering residue of patriarchal standards that believe a man’s value is worth more than a woman’s.
Gender inequality has remained the slow burn of our nation’s neglect toward one-half of its population, a malfeasance of injustice that has robbed generations of women not only of corner offices and management roles, but denied them the chance to imagine themselves without limits – in education, in society, even in the hierarchy of their own families.
In recent years, thanks in part to the power of social media, women have become empowered to dramatically even the playing field. Non-profit organizations and activists like The Institute for Workplace Equality are assisting employers in creating companies that are free from workplace bias.
In 2019, 11 members of the U.S. women’s soccer team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, claiming that they were being paid less than players on the U.S. men’s team. After filing an appeal in 2021, the Federation agreed to pay $24 million in settlement money.
In their 2021 article, “What is the gender pay gap and how do we close it?” the group Global Citizen wrote that by writing laws that enforce pay equity, companies can help wipe away wage discrepancies in order to achieve greater equality in the workforce; economic recovery plans stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic can be written to support women; leading companies can pledge to voluntarily commit to pay equity, as well as recruit and promote women to leadership roles; and schools can encourage young girls to pursue classes in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) that can lead to greater representation in higher-paying fields.
It was once said of Ginger Rogers that she did everything her dance partner Fred Astaire did, only she did it backwards and in heels.
It is well past time to finally see the equal exchange of dissimilar shoes and for women to dance while looking at everything clearly in front of them, not behind them.