Equal pay: a 95-year (and ongoing) battle

Story by Haley Zblewski, Chief Copy Editor

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Last week I went out to the bars with two of my guy friends, both of whom happen to be interested in politics, and one of whom at least dabbles with the idea of calling himself a feminist.

Which is why when they both tried explaining to me that unequal pay isn’t real, I got a little bit miffed. Because here’s the thing. Unequal pay for women is incredibly real.

Tuesday was Equal Pay Day.

Equal Pay Day marks how much extra time it takes women to earn the same amount of money that men do. Women in America must work 15 months and nine days to receive a paycheck equal to what men doing the same job received in 2012.

My friends at the bar are just a sample. Every man I have ever met who argued that feminism is useless or harmful also argued that women had an easier time getting jobs and almost always made more money than men.

There is absolutely zero evidence to support such claims because, well, all the evidence says the exact opposite.

Today, women receive less than 80 percent of the wages men receive for doing the same job according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In fact, the pay gap between men and women is getting wider.

According to an analysis by the Economic Opportunity Institute, men earn a median income of $20.95 an hour, women earned just $16.08. This means that the pay gap between men and women has actually grown since 2007 when women earned a little more, and men a little less.

Among the top twenty occupations most commonly held by women, there is just one in which women earn more than men – bookkeeping, where women earn 100.3 percent of men’s wages, the Economic Opportunity Institute found.

Can we pause for a second and take a look at how when a woman is actually paid more than a man, it’s by .3 percent, but when a man is paid more than a woman, it’s upwards of 20 percent? Yet somehow I’m supposed to believe men when they tell me women get paid more.

According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in Washington, at current rates it will take another 45 years for women to catch up to men and actually be paid equally.

It’s been 50 years this year since President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act of 1963, and we should expect it to take 45 more years before women can make the same income as men.

What? This is unacceptable.

The fact that some of my closest friends aren’t outraged and the fact that some of them cannot accept the actual proven fact that women are paid less leaves me a little hurt, but mostly confused.

Why were my guy friends so unwilling to accept what I was saying, what I was backing up with sources, when all they could retort with was a hypothetical situation about a man applying for a job as a social worker and the job being given to a woman?

While my friend was making the (incorrect) argument that women are more likely to be offered jobs than men, I pointed out that there are barely any women CEOs. To this, my friend replied ‘Well, there are a few, which means you guys are
making progress.’

But while we ignore that blatant brush off of my concerns, let’s take a look at what that ‘progress’ really looks like:

NerdScholar took a look at wage data and found women who are CEOs earn an average of $76,128 a year, while their male counterparts earn an average of $110,344.

But what’s $44,000, right? Those CEOs are paid totally equally.

At the same time, NerdScholar found the jobs that paid most equally were low-income positions such as store clerk or receptionist jobs.

Women are climbing the ladder to higher earnings, only finding a greater pay gap as they climb. It seems to me that it’s a system of keeping women poor and reliant on men.

Because that’s the thing. Feminism and the idea that women might make more money than men is incredibly threatening to men.

And until I can have a conversation with a man about unequal pay that doesn’t include him making up and believing false statements, none of this is going to change.