Forty-five years ago, on June 10 1963, President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, making it illegal to pay different people different amounts for the same work. Huzzah!
Fat lot of good it did, though, as white women are still payed 77 cents to every white man's dollar, African-American women are payed 66 cents to a white man's dollar and Latina women earn 53 cents to a white man's dollar. Across the board through all different kinds of fields and education levels, unequal pay according to gender persists in the American economy and workforce as institutionalized sexism.
Well, what about "women's choices"? You know, the stuff like makin' babies and dinner - those "women's choices" to put family first, because you know women with careers don't think about their families at all. The National Women's Law Center says, "Recent authoritative studies show that even when all relevant career and family attributes are taken into account, there is still a significant, unexplained gap in men's and women's earnings. Thus, even when women make the same career choices as men and work the same hours, they earn less."
Ok, so unequal pay isn't a result of career choices and persists regardless of socio-economic or racial categories, which means that it hurts everyone - men, women, children, families, single people, divorced, disabled, widowed, people with brown hair, people with black hair, people with five fingers, people who shave their legs and even those hippies and feminist-crazies who don't.
Here's what you can do:
Support the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which says that people can sue for pay discrimination within 180 days of their last paycheck, not 180 since their first paycheck. That means that if you've been working at the same company for five years and you've recently discovered that you're the victim of pay discrimination since hiring, you can sue your company for the past five years of pay discrimination. This new law would replace the recent Supreme Court ruling stating that people can only sue for pay discrimination within 180 days of the first incident. So if you've been paid unfairly for the past five years, you would have needed to discover the discrimination and sue within the first three months. In a society that's cultured not to discuss wages, especially among women, it's pretty damn hard to discover pay discrimination within three months of starting a new job/new salary. Not to mention this means that any women currently experiencing pay discrimination in their jobs (perhaps of many years or decades) would be screwed.
Here's info on the Fair Pay campaign, a fact sheet produced by the National Women's Law Center, and most important, a letter to your senator supporting the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. If you live in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Indiana, Iowa, Florida, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, or Virginia, one or both of your senators voted against the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act the first time around. You need to write them and tell him/her to get their ass in gear and support the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. I'm looking at you, Alabamians, Alaskans, Indianians, Iowans, Floridians, Nebraskans, New Mexicans, North Carolinians, Ohioans, Texans, and Virginians (who we all know are for lovers). Get on the ball and make sure your senator(s) know you're not happy with the way they're representing you.