“The jury is in, the studies are done, and the conclusions are consistent: the gender pay gap is alive and well,” said NOW President Kim Gandy. “The disparity between what women and men are paid stubbornly persists, even after controlling for years of education, work experience and type of occupation.”
For full-time, year-round workers, women are paid on average only 78 percent of what men are paid, and the gap is significantly wider for women of color. These wage gaps remain despite the passage of the 1963 Equal Pay Act and a variety of legislation prohibiting employment discrimination.
In 1963, full-time working women were paid 59 cents on average for every dollar paid to men. This means it took more than 40 years for the wage gap to close just 19 cents — a rate of less than half a penny a year. This snails-pace narrowing of the gap has slowed down even more during the last six years, with women gaining a mere two cents since 2001.
What are some of the ugly truths lurking behind the wage gap? A large percentage of women are segregated into occupations that pay less than most male-dominated professions. A far greater proportion of women cut back or interrupt time in the paid workforce to deal with family responsibilities, which directly impacts their earning potential. And women’s pay is affected by stereotypical attitudes about the sexes that range from the blatantly outrageous to those so embedded in our society we barely notice them.
Guaranteeing that women receive equal pay for equal work will help struggling families, stimulate the economy, and ensure self-sufficiency for women. In light of the economic crisis facing our nation, it is more important than ever to close the wage gap and ensure that victims of wage discrimination have access to fair compensation.
“Clearly some employers will keep discriminating if they can get away with it, and it’s Congress’ job to pass more effective laws — like the Paycheck Fairness Act — so they can’t,” said Gandy. “NOW members are contacting their senators right now, urging them to sponsor the Paycheck Fairness Act. The passage of this bill is essential to ensuring women’s economic security during these uncertain times.”
Read NOW’s fact sheet on equal pay.