Magazine article National NOW Times

Equal Pay Struggle: 46 Years and Still Shortchanged

Magazine article National NOW Times

Equal Pay Struggle: 46 Years and Still Shortchanged

Article excerpt

On Tuesday, April 28 we will mark Equal Pay Day, which was created in 1996 by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) to draw attention to the wage gap between men and women. Every spring, the committee calculates how much longer women have to work that year in order to equal the dollars that men were paid the previous year.

Overall, a woman earns only an average of 78 cents for every dollar that a man earns for full-time work. The wage gap is even greater for employed mothers and for African American women and Latinas despite passage of the Equal Pay Act 46 years ago. Women's rights advocates have been trying to close this wage gap by demanding full enforcement of that law, as well as legislation to broadly address wage discrimination.

Congress passed the Equal Pay Act in 1963 to guarantee equal pay for equal work, and included non-discrimination provisions in the Civil Rights Act of 1 964, but progress has been slow and inadequate. In 1963, working women earned 59 cents to every man's dollar; this means that the wage gap has only narrowed by less than half a cent annually.

Economist and WAGE Project President Evelyn Murphy has calculated that because of the wage gap, a female high school graduate is denied $700,000 over the course of her lifetime, compared to her male counterpart. The losses are greater for women who have completed college or graduate school, to upward of $1.2 million and $2 million respectively.

Working for equal pay for all women has been one of NOW's major priorities. Activists across the country helped pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, overturning a Supreme Court ruling preventing wage discrimination victims from filing a claim more than 180 days of their first discriminatory paycheck, even if they did not know about the discrimination. …

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