AAUW members and pay equity advocates all across the country are marking Equal Pay Day today. Marking the day, not celebrating the day. We will celebrate when we no longer need Equal Pay Day, when pay discrimination and the wage gap are things of the past, when women’s wages are finally equal to men’s. Until then, we’ll continue to mark this day — with rallies, proclamations, “unhappy” hours, community events, and bake sales where women receive a discount equal to the wage gap.
We’ll continue to wear red to show how the wage gap puts women “in the red” financially. We’ll continue to educate the next generation of women leaders to the fact that, despite the progress we’ve made, they will continue to face wage discrimination from the time they graduate throughout their career and beyond. After all, less money earned during your career means less pension, Social Security benefits, and savings in retirement.
We’ll continue to come up with new slogans and materials and events to keep our advocates engaged and pushing for real change. We’ll continue to ask questions like, “What would it mean if there weren’t a $10,662 wage gap?” and to think about all the things we could do for our families, ourselves, and our communities if we were paid fairly.
And we’ll continue to push for legislation that will help close the wage gap — legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act. Its comprehensive approach to updating the Equal Pay Act of 1963 would help create an environment where women receive the fair compensation that they deserve and that their families — and our economy as a whole — need. We’ll continue to urge our senators to take a stand against pay discrimination and do what’s right by passing this bill.
We’ll continue to point out that, without the Paycheck Fairness Act, women will continue to be silenced in the workplace — prohibited from talking about their employer’s wage policies or even their own wages with co-workers without the fear of being fired. This forced silence keeps many women from discovering pay discrimination in the first place. Especially in this economy, the fear of being fired is strong enough to keep women from even broaching the subject. We’ll continue to hear the stories of women like Lilly Ledbetter, who was subjected to pay discrimination for decades without knowing it because she wasn’t allowed to talk about her wages in her workplace.
Personally, with my extra $10,662, I’d feel more secure about my financial situation. I’d be able to save a little for my retirement, invest a little, maybe even eventually buy a modest condo in the expensive city in which I live and work. But until the day comes when I see that $10,662 reflected in my paycheck, I’ll continue to mark Equal Pay Day, push for the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, and to do what I can so that, one day in the future, I won’t have to mark Equal Pay Day anymore.
This post contributed by Lecia Imbery, AAUW’s public policy grassroots coordinator. It has been cross-posted from AAUW Dialog.
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