I earlier briefly discussed what the wage gap is. To contextualize it, i found a few political cartoons that help you understand it.
This first cartoon I enjoyed specifically because the problem of assertive women being considered a bitch isn’t just a problem in the work place. I find a huge problem with this double standard of men being expected to be assertive and sometimes argumentative. If women do they’re a bitch. The tradition idea of women is that they are submissive and don’t object to their male counterparts. It’s very unfortunate that because if you, as a woman, break out of that mold, if you are independent and stand up for yourself, it’s considered a bad thing.
This cartoon really sold it for me because it refers to the double edged sword women face when entering the workforce while having a family. Women are usually expected to care for the children when they’re sick (Not true in all cases, there are many dads who leave work to care for their children– kudos to them), women are expected to care for older relatives when they get old and need being cared for, and women give birth to little ones. Sadly the US is really behind on provided family and maternity leave to both men and women who are in the work force. And while men too are the victims to the lack of enforcement of the Family and Medical Leave Act, a lot of the burden falls on women to take the unpaid leave due to the expectation to follow gender role norms. So women who choose to have a career are forced to choose: be a career woman, leaving someone else to care for kids and relatives (and be perceived as a bad mother) or sacrifice your career to take care of those you love.
Recently today, in honor of Equal Pay Day, Obama signed an executive order that prohibited the pay discrimination of female federal contractor employees. While this is a good first step it does not go far enough– in order to have equal pay, we need enforcement of all government employees (state and federal) as well as all private sector employees to paid equally regardless of their gender.
Women in the United States are at a disadvantage: the wage gap. Women are unable to get equal pay for equal work. Now sadly, many don’t believe that the wage gap exists. Studies shows the wage gap starts right after college. So female college students, now not only do you have to worry about a finding a job (in a terrible economy) but unfortunately you wont make as much as men with the same education and experience who are in the same position as you. Personally, as a woman who will have to face this it makes me upset that even if I’m as qualified as a man, I can’t make as much as him just because I have lady parts. This wage gap is also really detrimental for families where the women is the bread winner and makes the majority (if not all) the income for the household. The Equal Pay Act was signed into law by President Kennedy in 1963. While it did help with some of the pay gap it still is a problem. Earlier this year, the Paycheck Fairness Act was proposed and then killed in both the House and the Senate, being blocked by the GOP and those who don’t believe the wage gap exists; this is the second time the bill wasn’t passed (it was proposed in 2009 as well). This bill would have updated the 50 year old Equal Pay Act, getting rid of red tape and loopholes, help track unfair payment practices, increase penalties for payment violations and much more.
There are a couple of reasons why I find this issue of importance. First, I attend a school where there is disproportionately more females than males and I would hope that they are aware of this sort of issues that they will be facing in the next couple years and hopefully we can start doing something about it like start writing letters to our congressional representatives telling them we want this passed to better our future and to help those who are already at a disadvantage (which would probably be helpful since I go to school in a pretty conservative state). Second, this is an issue that affects more than just women. It affects the children of single mothers or homes where the mother is the primary source of income for whatever reason. It affects husbands or significant others who may have to find higher paying jobs that may not be as preferable in order to make up for loss income. It is a family issue. It also is an issue of fairness and equal opportunity. I today is an especially important day to talk about it since it is Equal Pay Day- a day used to raise awareness for this issue. Women are paid on average o77 cents for every dollar a man equally qualified make. By the time a woman is 65, she will have lost $431,000 due to the wage gap. The numbers are worse for women of color: black women make 69 cents for every dollar a man equally qualified makes and latina women make 59 cents for every dollar a man equally qualified makes. Do what you can– call your representatives and help make change on this issue.