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Equal Pay for Women

It may seem absurd to work an additional four months to receive equal pay, but it is a reality for African-American, Native American, and Latina women.

There is no standard Equal Pay Day. The day that marks Equal Pay Day reflects how far into the year a woman has to work to catch up to what a man earned the previous year. Women must work an additional 99 days each year to make the same amount as men because of this gender pay gap. In addition, black and Hispanic women earn less than half as much as white male colleagues.

After the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, women were paid 59 cents for every dollar earned by men. In 44 years, the wage gap has closed by just 18 cents - decreasing at a rate of less than half a penny a year. Since the turn of the century, this gap narrowing has slowed considerably. Women are still paid less than men more than fifty years after the Equal Pay Act in nearly every industry and occupation. The law applies to all working women, regardless of education, income, and experience. In New Jersey, women earning full-time are paid 80 cents for every dollar earned by men. Women of color face an even wider income gap: African-American women earn 58 percent, and Latina women earn 43 percent of what white men earn. New Jersey loses nearly $16 billion in wages due to this pay gap every year (National Organization for Women).

In 2009, women's median pay for personal care and service work was equal to men's. There are persistent wage gaps among full-time, year-round workers despite the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, and numerous other laws prohibiting employment discrimination.

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) study examined how college graduates' wage gap affects. A wage gap starts shortly after college graduation, when, absent discrimination, women and men should be on an equal footing. Women's salary is only 82 percent of men's one year after graduating from college. Ten years after college, women's wages drop even further behind men's, to 69 percent. No matter their age, education, additional hours worked, or marital status, female managers, only earn 81 percent of what men do, resulting in a 19 percent pay gap. The study also noted that women earn less money despite making the same choices as men. (AAUW)

Most occupations for which there are sufficient earnings data for both men and women to determine the earnings ratio for women are lower than those for men. Women earn 66 percent less than their male peers in middle-skill occupations. Women's work is undervalued in all countries and industries, leading to a persistent wage gap. Furthermore, women are often concentrated in different kinds of jobs than men. Despite the work requiring equal or even greater effort and skills, it is valued and rewarded less. The gap widens for women of color, immigrants, and mothers. The "motherhood penalty" causes women to enter the informal economy, take up casual work, and work part-time in developing countries.

Some people might even be unaware of the wage gap between men and women. It is essential to become aware before taking action. People must realize the impact of the gender pay gap if they hope to make a difference.

The eradication of the gender pay gap could be made possible because of effective legislation at the local, state, and federal levels. Although the pay gap is a national issue with national consequences, each state has its pay gap, and equal pay is likely to be a vital issue during the upcoming elections. Therefore, on top of reaching out to local officials, consider registering to vote and voting at local, state, and federal levels.

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