The gender-based pay gap: the facts ain’t pretty

By Lisa McIntire on
September 29, 2010

A recent New York Times editorial made an urgent case for the Senate to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act before it’s too late and the measure dies on the vine. The act would help those affected by gender-based discrimination, protect employees who share salary information with co-workers from retaliation, and require employers to prove that differences in wage are based on the job and not the gender of the employee.

Why this push for passing the Paycheck Fairness Act? Well, the data is rather grim:
- More than 10 percent of single mothers (over half a million) who worked full-time, year-round jobs lived in poverty in 2009
- 17 percent of black and 19 percent of Latina single mothers who work full time lived in poverty
- More two-parent families are dependent on women as the sole wage earner due to the recession
- A woman who works year-round in a full-time job makes an average of 77 cents for every dollar earned by a male counterpart
- Black women earn 62 cents for every dollar earned by white men, and for Latina women, it’s 53 cents

This inequality goes all the way up the ladder, as a new Government Accountability Office report shows: female managers earned just 81 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts in 2007, and only 40% of U.S. managers are women – up just 1% from 2000. A Washington Post article explores the reasons often given for this persistent disparity – discrimination, education, negotiating ability – and concludes that no single factor can explain the continual gap.

Likewise, no single factor can solve this complex issue, but one thing can certainly help: the Paycheck Fairness Act. The House passed this bill all the way back in January 2009 – it’s time for the Senate to follow suit.

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