By Lilli DeBode, guest blogger, senior at Kent Place School
Last Tuesday, April 9th was Equal Pay Day, the day symbolizing how far into 2013 women need to work in order to earn what men earned in 2012. You can hear all the numbers and statistics, see all of the graphs and tables, but nothing puts it into perspective quite like this. Women need to work roughly a third of a year longer in order to make what their male counterparts make. Let that sink in.
2013 marks the 50 year anniversary of the passing of the Equal Pay Act. A half a century ago, John F. Kennedy said that this act would help to end “the unconscionable practice of paying female employees less wages than male employees for the same job.” But 50 years later we still need to have an equal pay day. And although the situation is a lot better, we’re not that close to equality (four months is a pretty long time).
One solution that could make a huge difference is the Paycheck Fairness Act, which has been passed by the house twice. The act would combat a key component to gender wage gap: pay secrecy policies. In 2011, a poll showed that 50% of employees and 61% of employees in the private sector have worked in an environment where discussion of wages and salaries are either prohibited or discouraged by managers. By keeping employees from finding out the salaries of their coworkers, employers are able to carry on pay discrimination without any trouble. The Paycheck Fairness Act would ban retaliation against workers who discuss their wages, fundamentally banning pay secrecy.
President Obama spoke about fair pay in his State of the Union speech two months ago, showing that this longstanding problem has not been forgotten in Washington. This is a promising sign that more steps will be taken towards finally closing the gender wage gap in the near future.