Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Pay Gap for Women: It's a Family Issue

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Pay Gap for Women: It's a Family Issue

Article excerpt

Most people can measure their status at work by four P's: paychecks, promotions, performance reviews, and perks. For women, it is paychecks that often speak the loudest about how employers value them - or undervalue them. Despite gains, many women still earn, on average, just 74 cents for every dollar men earn, reports the US Census Bureau.

Do the math: That's 26 cents per dollar lost. Over a working lifetime, that potential income adds up to staggering losses. As one example, the Institute for Women's Policy Research in Washington calculates that the average 29-year-old working woman with a college degree will lose $990,000 to the pay gap over her career.

To emphasize just how much that income gap between men and women costs women, the Working Women's Department of the AFL-CIO last week launched an unusual Web site - www.aflcio.org/women/equalpay.htm - for equal pay. A visitor to the site simply enters her current salary, age group, and education level. Then the screen shows how much the pay gap could cost her.

For a hypothetical 40-year-old college-educated woman earning $40,000, the figure is $844,107. In real life, of course, some women's losses will be lower - or even nonexistent.

Wage discrimination has been against the law for 35 years. Yet systematic underpayment on the basis of sex and race still pervades the workplace. Since the Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963, the wage gap has closed at the rate of less than half a penny a year, giving new meaning to the term "snail's pace."

Women secretaries, for example, earn about $100 a week less than male clericals, according to the National Committee on Pay Equity. For women lawyers, median weekly earnings are nearly $300 less than those of male lawyers. Median pay for women professors is $170 less than men's. Women elementary school teachers average $70 less than their male counterparts. …

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