A recent Time article, The Pay Gap for Women is not as Bad as You (and Sheryl Sandberg ) Think suggests that women are either somehow at fault or to blame for earning less than a male for the same job with same skills, citing that women make poor career choices which pay less than ones selected by men. Women on average earn less than men for comparable jobs or 77 cents in 2012 for every dollar a man earns. Past studies account for job choices and compare similar jobs in citing the pay differences between men and women. The reason that women are paid less than a man for equal work and experience is discriminatory and for no other reason. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women’s salaries are outpaced by men almost everywhere from the highest paying occupations to the lowest paying occupations. Everywhere from doctors and lawyers to cashiers and lesser positions, women earn less than their male counterparts.
And for those women who are fortunate to attend college, pay tuition for a 4 year college education and get a degree, their reward will be to earn less than a man and receive on average 93 cents to every dollar a man earns. Time’s article agrees with the American Association of University Women (“AAUW”) study that show that women start out in the workplace earning less—straight out of college but Time seems to suggest that the difference is somehow acceptable and not as bad as we think. The article asserts that if a woman is paid less, then she can just sue under the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Where the problem is systemic throughout the country, that won’t readily fix it. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D. MD) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D. CT) co-sponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act which would require that an employer must justify paying a man more than a woman for the same job and would make it easier for women to file class action suits against their employers for alleged sex-based discrimination. It failed to pass in 2011 and 2012. It was re-introduced in 2013.
Even more disturbing in the pay equity debate is the fact that women of color earn even less than their white counterparts. Time’s article fails to discuss that women of color are at an even greater disadvantage in terms of pay equity. African American women earn 64 cents to the dollar of what men earn. And Hispanic women make only 55 cents. The loss in income for women due to the pay gap means less money to support a family, with housing, food, education and health care.
Time’s article ignores the fact that women paid pennies less than men adds up substantially over the lifetime of a woman’s career, whether 55, 64, 77, or 93 cents for college educated women to a man’s dollar. And at a time when a woman needs money the most, during her retirement years, she is going to have to survive on less money than her male counterparts due to all those pennies adding up over a 30-40 year work life span. The amount of a woman’s wages determines her benefits for Social Security and pension. Over the lifetime of a working woman, new research shows that a woman’s earnings are more than $430,000 less than a comparable male counterpart over a 35 year working life. Evidence shows this disparity is due to unequal pay practices, namely discrimination and not to a woman’s career choice.
Yes, the pay gap for women is as bad as we think and even worse for women of color.
Time’s article was written by Ruth Davis Konigsberg and express her opinion.
Debbie Hines is an attorney and blogger who appears frequently in the media addressing issues on race and gender. Her blog LegalSpeaks addresses issues in law and politics affecting race and gender. She also contributes articles to the Huffington Post and the Women’s Media Center blog. Her writings have also appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun and Afro American.