By Miri Cypers, JWI Senior Policy and Advocacy Specialist
My Mom and Dad are the proud parents of three daughters, all pursuing careers in diverse fields, from politics to the arts to the restaurant industry. Despite our different career choices, chances are that we will all face similar struggles in our careers, as will most American women: gender-based wage discrimination. The facts are sobering: today women make up about half of our nation’s workforce but only earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.
According to a fact sheet published by the Center for American Progress, over a 40-year working career, the average woman loses $431,000 as the result of the wage gap. This wage gap exists in all racial and ethnic groups and in every state. On top of that, in a troubled economy where families are increasingly dependent on women’s salaries for financial stability, this is truly debilitating.
The U.S. Congress has passed important laws to address these inequities. From the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passed more recently in 2009, Presidents and Members of Congress have led efforts to provide working women with a more equal playing field and the tools to combat wage discrimination. But more must be done and can be done- starting with this Congress.
Recently, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) reintroduced the Paycheck Fairness Act. This critical legislation will update and strengthen the Equal Pay Act in a few key ways including: barring retaliation against workers who voluntarily discuss or disclose their wages, putting the Equal Pay Act on equal footing with subsequent civil rights anti-discrimination legislation, requiring employers to justify unequal pay disparities, and strengthening federal outreach to businesses to improve equal pay practices. In the coming weeks, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will bring the Paycheck Fairness Act to the Senate floor. The 55,000 members of Jewish Women International urge every Senator to vote to advance this critical legislation and ensure its timely passage.
This blog is part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.