Double X: Americans should take wage gap seriously

In the early 1970s, women were a small percentage of the workforce, making up less than 50 percent. However, the last 40 years have drastically changed that statistic — currently six in 10 women are working for pay. Unfortunately, the wage discrepancy between women and their male coworkers has not changed. National estimates show that women today make 77 cents to every dollar a man makes.

When the Paycheck Fairness Act was blocked by Senate Republicans last Wednesday, women across the country had a right to, as the stereotype goes, get emotional. Blocking the PFA was an utterly ridiculous decision. Female wage discrimination is still a huge issue in America. The fact that it is legal to pay a woman less than a man for the same job is completely wrong and needs to be changed.

Women face a pay gap in nearly every occupation and every state. In any job — whether it’s as a computer programmer, teacher, nurse or another profession — women are paid significantly less than their male counterparts. Every state in the United States has some type of pay gap. In states like Wyoming, the gap is particularly troubling, as women earn only 64 cents to every dollar men make.

In addition, no matter what level of education a woman attains, the pay gap will still exist. A quality education may increase a woman’s earnings, but it does not make her salary equal to a man’s. At every level of academic achievement, women still make considerably less than men.

Businesses cannot justify paying women less than men on the basis of work performance. In fact, women actually have been found to be better workers in some cases. A 2013 Ponemon Institute study found that women, on average, worked harder than men. Researchers discovered that during a 10-minute trial, female subjects worked for 2.5 minutes on a specific project whereas male subjects only worked on the project for 2.1 minutes. In addition, when given the opportunity to walk away from the assigned project, 52 percent of men walked away while only 38 percent of women left.

Given the prominent female presence in the workforce, women should not continue to accept reduced pay for equal work. Women are critical to the vitality of our economy, and they deserve to be compensated justly for their efforts. Americans should not stand idly while our representatives continually reject solutions to pay inequity. The wage gap commands immediate attention — both men and women must treat the issue with the seriousness it merits.

Lena Rawley is a staff columnist. Email her at [email protected].

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