By Emma Whitford ‘18
Equal pay has become one of the driving issues of the 2014 midterm elections, and it seems that everyone, democrats and republicans alike, have been stepping out to defend it. Why, then, are women still making less than men?
In 1963 congress passed the Equal Pay Act, which requires that men and women under the same employer be given equal pay for equal work. Even with this in place, women still make an average of 77 cents to the man’s dollar. This gap widens for African American and Latina women, with African Americans making an average of 64 cents to the Caucasian male dollar, and Latinas making an average of only 54 cents to their Caucasian male counterparts.
Previously, equal pay was seen as a women’s issue, but in today’s world it’s affecting everyone. Living in a time of rising costs and falling wages, many families rely on two incomes to support their household. Both women and men are finding it an issue that women earn less money based on pure discrimination.
Women are increasingly the breadwinners for their families. According to U.S. Department of Labor statistics, 60% of households with children are dual income households. If women are equally important to the finances of their families, and they’re doing equal work with equal skills, it’s time for them to earn equal pay.
This spring the Paycheck Fairness Act was raised once again in the Senate. Introduced in 2009, the bill went through the House, but was denied in November 2010 in the Senate. The bill was put up again in 2012, but fell short of the 60 votes needed to bring it to a debate on the floor. Drafted as an update to the Equal Pay Act, the bill has three main proposals. First, it suggests that it will be illegal for employers to prohibit or discourage the disclosure of wages and salaries between employees. Second, it declares that employers must be able to prove that pay differences are influenced by factors other than sex. Third, the bill will strengthen the penalties to those found guilty of equal pay violations.
The bill was reintroduced to the Senate in April of 2014, and with 73 votes was put to debate on the floor. Earlier this month, the bill was voted down once again along straight party lines.
The White House and Senate democrats have been very vocal in support of the Paycheck Fairness Act. It’s a strategic move to play for the November mid-terms because it plays well to women, a largely democratic demographic.
The GOP announced support of equal pay for women, and Senate republicans justify the rejection of the bill because no amendments to the bill were considered. They claim that the bill will discourage employers from hiring women, in turn hurting the very people it claims to help.