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COMMUNITY VOICE

Women are still woefully in the red when paychecks compared to men's

Friday, April 12, 2013 - 12:01 am

Tuesday, April 9 was the national observance of Equal Pay Day, the day that symbolizes how many days into 2013 women must work to earn what men earned in 2012.

It's also a day when many in the country gather to recognize and raise awareness about the wage gap between working women and men and to offer remedies for pay inequity.

On June 10, 1963, while signing the Equal Pay Act, President John Kennedy said, “While much remains to be done to achieve full equality of economic opportunity — for the average woman worker earns only 60 percent of the average wage for men — this legislation is a significant step forward.”

Undoubtedly, President Kennedy believed the legislation he signed was a significant step forward in the wage equality effort. However, the reality is that 50 years later women still have not achieved wage equality.

In fact, since the signing of the Equal Pay Act, the wage gap has closed at a painfully slow rate of half a cent per year.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau, women are paid, on average, 77 cents for every dollar their male counterparts are paid — a gap of 23 cents.

As if that isn't bad enough, it's even worse for women working in Indiana. The wage gap in Indiana is one of the largest gaps in the nation with women making only 73 cents for every dollar a man makes (Center for American Progress).

The gap is even larger for women of color. Over a 40-year working career, this wage gap translates to a woman in Indiana being shortchanged over $500,000 in career earnings.

To add insult to injury, the assertion that the wage gap is just a myth continues to persist in some circles despite evidence to the contrary and research from government and private organizations and agencies.

Although research and studies may differ on exactly how large the gap is, the majority of findings show a significant gap in pay remains between men and women in similar jobs.

Here are some wage gap facts:

•Although U.S. women make up 49 percent of the workforce, they represent 59 percent of low-wage workers. (Study findings from Booz & Co. global management consulting firm)

•A study done by Prudential Financial on women and finances finds 53 percent of working women surveyed are primary breadwinners for their families.

•The U.S. Department of Commerce tells us women in the United State make or influence 80 percent of overall consumer spending.

•A projection by the Institute for Women's Policy Research in Washington, D.C., shows women's wages won't be equal to men's until 2056.

Be sure to wear red to symbolize that women and minorities are in the red.

Deborah Beckman is president/CEO of the YWCA Northeast Indiana