Pay equity for women to be repealed?

Minnesota proposes to end ‘equal pay for women’ policy for public employees.  Do we really want to go back?

NORTHFIELD, MN (February 21, 2011) – In the United States, women make 77 cents per each dollar men make (Census, 2010). It used to be even worse. Governments in Minnesota have been operating under a pay equity for women policy to insure fairness.  Now the policy is under scrutiny with repeal being proposed.

Minnesota was the first state to pass pay equity laws. In 1982, it passed the State Government Pay Equity Act, which covered state employees, and in 1984 the LGPEA was passed to cover all public employees in the state. HF7/SF159 proposes the repeal.

The pay equity for women act did not exist at the beginning of my professional career.  

I remember.

My first pay raise came when I was 22 years old and working for a county government. During my first year of work I probably averaged 60 hours of more a week. I was single, energized, and ready to change the world. To say I was a “go getter” was an understatement.

My two professional co-workers included a middle-aged male and a middle-aged female. Both did a great job and were fun to work alongside.

After my first year, the team supervisor came and met with us together. He was an older white male. And, he was in charge of giving out the raises. One amount had been designated for our office.  He got to distribute it between the three professional employees.

First, he started with me. “Donna,” he said, “You did a great job this past year. However, since you are a single woman there will be no raise for you this year. We don’t want you to be making more than the local guys.If you make more than a guy you will never get married.”

Next, he turned to my female co-worker. “Pat,” he said, “You did a great job this past year. However, since your husband Herb works for a company that I know has had a good year, there will be no raises for you this year.”

Finally, he turned to my male co-worker. “Dave,” he said, “You have a large family to support. This year all of the office raise will go to you.”

Now, never mind performance. Never mind that Dave had a full-time working spouse.

Granted, during that time it was common for seniority, longevity, personal relationships with bosses, and other factors to be used for determining pay and raises. And gender.

When I told some younger people this story they thought I made it up. When I share it with older women they sometimes share a story even more dramatic about pay inequity.

Once the pay equity policy was passed, supervisors like mine had to report their financial decisions to a higher authority. And have a management rationale.

Later, I got raises. I don’t remember how much – fairness was the point rather than the amount of money.

Please comment: What do you think of pay equity policies? Are they irrelevant today or still applicable?

Note: Census statistics released September 16, 2010 show that the women still earn 77 percent of what men earn, based on the median earnings of full-time, year-round workers in 2009.

Originally published by Washington Times Communities

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