Today is the third anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. And it seems a sorry state of affairs that I can’t report that much has changed. Indeed, I can’t even report that President Obama is still interested in sending a message that the health and prosperity of women is one of his key concerns as he gears up for re-election. The Fair Pay Act was the first bill Obama signed into law, but just last week in his State of the Union address he could barely muster a sentence to decry that women do not have pay equity with men.
When it comes to equal pay for equal work, I’m afraid women are in for a long wait.
The Equal Pay Act, which is supposed to prohibit any form of discrimination based on sex, was passed in 1963. That’s almost 50 years we’ve been waiting for wage equity! Hell, it’s going to take an additional 107 days into this year for women to just catch up to the wages a man made for the same job in 2011.
Women still make 78 cents to every dollar a man makes. In a failing economy, those cents really start adding up. 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?
I’m glad we have the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. But it’s just one step. And we have miles to go before we sleep when it comes to the pay gap issue. Let’s not kid ourselves, the effects of pay inequality are felt by all of us. (Isn’t that what the Occupy Wall Street movement was about?) It’s time to stop looking at this as a “women’s issue” and face the reality that it’s a national economic issue.
It’s time for fair pay. Now!