Here’s a memo to The Senate: Equal pay means a stronger economy.
Unfortunately, The Paycheck Fairness Act died by a 58-41 (1 abstaining) cloture vote today in the Senate. For Nevadans, we can thank recently re-elected Sen. Harry Reid for voting for this bill, which would have helped “provide more effective remedies to victims” of gender-based wage discrimination (among other reasons). Not surprisingly, conservative Sen. John Ensign (up for re-election next year) voted against the bill. (Most disappointing is that the bill was just shy of the two votes that could have sent it on.)
The fact that The Paycheck Fairness Act did not make it past the Senate is both frustrating and not surprising. Women still make 77 cents to every dollar a man makes. In a failing economy, those cents really start adding up. In fact, it takes women an extra four months into the following year to make the equivalent wage of a man in one year. This year Equal Pay Day was marked on April 20 — a full 110 days, or more than a third of a year!
Imagine what struggling families could do if they had that much more salary to live on! In fact, Newsweek did just that: 8 months’ worth of groceries for a family of four. Or how about this number: $1.2 million. That’s how much less a female college graduate will earn compared to a man over a lifetime. Indeed, childless, full-time working women make 23 percent less than their male counterparts 10 years post graduation. (So much for the mommy track ruining your earning potential. Just have a vagina and you’re already screwed.) And the kicker? If we paid women the same as men the national GDP would go up by an estimated 9 percent! Are you kidding me? You want a way out of this shitty economy, start paying women equally!
And if you think The Senate was just following the will of the people, think again. According to the same Newsweek article, a survey of businesspeople revealed that 1 in 4 worldwide say gender parity is a priority and 1 in 5 commit resources to create parity.
“Women have yet to rise to leadership levels at the same rate and pace as their male counterparts. Women enter the workforce in large numbers, but over time steadily ‘vaporize’ from the higher echelons of organization hierarchy”.
The AAUW, who fought hard for this bill, verbalized the frustrations of many in a press release issued today:
“This was a missed opportunity to make history and jump start real economic change for American women and their families,” said AAUW Executive Director Linda D. Hallman, CAE. “While the Senate’s action is difficult to comprehend given the stark reality that most families depend on the paychecks of women, our effort to close the pay gap is far from over.”
Indeed, we have miles to go before we sleep on the pay gap issue. And the effects of it are felt by all of us. It’s time to stop looking at this as a “women’s issue” and face the reality that it’s a national economic issue. (As well as having an effect on health care, child care and many other issues.) But somehow this issue has been shunted to the media ghetto — getting a token story once a year for Equal Pay Day and then languishing in obscurity the rest of the time. That’s gotta change.
And I would have gotten this post up sooner, but I had to stop several times while writing it to do my day job: stay at home mom. An unpaid job valued at an annual salary of $117, 867 by Salary.com. But that’s a post for another day.