Jun 11

Equal Pay Act 50 Years Later: Where are we today?




President Kennedy and supporters, as he signs the Equal Pay Act in 1963. Photo Credit to Harvey Georges/APFifty years ago, on June 10, 1963, President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, calling it a “first step.” You can read the text of the act here. On that day, American women earned 59 cents for every dollar a man earned.

Fifty years later, and women are earning 77 cents per dollar. The gap cannot be explained simply because of the type of work women choose to do vs. men. Some argue that the gap is distorted because women tend to choose lower paying fields of employment than men. Unfortunately, there is evidence to prove that even when men and women work in the same fields, women are still getting paid less. In Graduating to a Pay Gap, Catherine Hill, the research director for the American Association of University Women, explores this issue, among others. According to Ms. Hill’s research, one year after college graduation, women earn 88% of what a man earns in engineering/technology fields; 77% of what a man earns in computer and information sciences, and 83% of what a man earns in social science-related careers.

This is not acceptable. Women are going to college more than men, yet still not earning the same pay. Many believe that motherhood is part of the problem — the pay gap increases as women have children. Some say it is discrimination against women, or specifically, mothers. Yet, more women are heads of household, but they have to do it with less pay than their male counterparts. We have to work tirelessly to combat such prejudice so that women can earn a living for their families.