Equal Pay Day is April 17, 2012

Nearly 50 years ago, it became illegal to pay women less on the basis of their sex.  Since the Equal Pay Act of 1963 was signed into law, the pay gap has closed at less than one-half cent per year.

To see how little the wage gap has changed during this period go to The National Committee on Pay Equity’s The Wage Gap Over Time.  (See also the fact sheet from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research: The Gender Wage Gap: 2010.)

I find this so hard for me to fathom.  This is within my lifetime, not some long ago far away time. It still amazes me that several years after both my grandmothers’ birth, women finally were given the right to vote.

According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, December 13, 2011 in an article titled Steinem’s Wall Street Occupied as Women Still Earn Less Than Men:

Women made some progress between 2007 and 2010, as the wage gap narrowed in 35 states, Bureau of Labor Statistics data show. It was smallest in Washington D.C., where women made 89 cents for every $1 a man did, and greatest in Wyoming, at 65 cents.

Among industries, the disparity is often greater in the finance sector, with female financial analysts making 70 cents on the male dollar, the census data show.

After the worst economic downturn in nearly a century, men continue to earn more than women in 361 metropolitan areas in the country, an annual survey by the Census Bureau found. If current trends continue, it will take 45 years for women’s salaries to equal that of men’s, research by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research shows.

According to Steinem, U.S. women earn an average of $2 million less over the course of their lifetimes than men. It isn’t because they stop working sooner, she said. “It’s because they are paid unequally.”

Equal Pay Day is Tuesday, April 17, 2012. This day shows how far into the current year women must work to earn what men earned in 2011. This day was originated by the National Committee on Pay Equity in 1996 as a public awareness event illustrating the gap in pay between men and women.

Businesses can take steps toward achieving ay equity by looking at their pay practices to be sure all employees are treated equally. Employers may not realize their pay scales favor men.  To view the law  http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/epa.cfm.

Pay equity makes good business sense.  It promotes a workforce that feels valued and helps the bottom line.  In our competitive economy, fair pay policies will help attract and maintain the best workers.

Donna Simpson
Consultant Manager
Small Business Development Center

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