Equal Pay Day symbolizes how far into the year a woman must work, on average, to earn as much as a man earned the previous year. Today, Tuesday April 12, 2011 is the day on which women’s wages catch up with men’s wages from the previous year.
The Wage Gap
The commonly used measure to determine the wage gap is the ratio of women’s to men’s median annual earnings for full-time, full-year workers. Based on these earnings, women earned just 77 percent of what men earned in 2009 (data not yet available for 2010, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, April 2011).
Nationally, Asian American women have the smallest wage gap, earning 91 percent of what the average white man earned in 2010. White women are next, earning approximately 81 percent of white men’s average income. African-American women (70 percent) and Hispanic women (60 percent) have the largest wage gaps as compared to white men (Institute for Women’s Policy Research, April 2011).
A typical woman earns $431,000 less in pay over 40 years due to this wage gap. This gap rises to $723,000 for women who have earned college degrees (Center for American Progress, 2010).
How About PA?
The wage gap is just as bad, if not worse, in our state. When ranked among the other 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, Pennsylvania’s wage gap placed it 35th (American Community Survey Briefs, September 2010).
The median annual income for a woman working full-time, year round in Pennsylvania in 2009 was $35,301, compared to men’s $46,747. This is a wage gap of 76 percent (American Community Survey Briefs, September 2010).
This earnings ratio decreased to 69 percent when the median earnings of women with a graduate or professional degree ($57,945) were compared to the median earnings of similarly educated men ($84,389) (M Price et al., 2008).
Centre County ranks 47 out of 67 counties in terms of the wage gap. Women in Centre County earn 70% of men’s hourly wages (M Price et al., 2008).
Pennsylvania women earn $459,000 less in pay over a 40-year career. That gap rises to $722,000 if you have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. (Center for American Progress, 2010).
What Can YOU Do?
- Tell your employer if you are being paid less then your male co-workers. If there’s a union, ask for their help.
- If discrimination persists,
- File a complaint with the PA Human Relations Commission in Harrisburg. Contact information is available by region. Just go to their website and look for your county's name. The phone number and address for your regional office is listed directly above the names of the counties served by each office..
- Check to see if your local borough or county has a local anti-discrimination ordinance. There are about 15 jurisdictions throughout the state with local ordinance. Your regional office of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission can give you this information.
- If you are an employer, you can get help in examining pay practices by conducting an equal pay self-audit using the guidelines from the US Department of Labor (available at http://www.pay-equity.org/cando-audit.html).
- Senator Barbara Mikulski (MD) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLaruro (CT) re-introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act this morning.
- Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) is one of the 24 co-sponsors of the Senate bill; you can thank him at either (202) 224-6324 or at http://casey.senate.gov/contact/.
- Senator Pat Toomey is not a co-sponsor; ask him why not? He can be contacted at (202) 224-4254 or at http://toomey.senate.gov/contact_form.cfm.
- And ask your Congressional representatives to co-sponsor the Paycheck Fairness Act. You can find your local Congressional Representative's contact information on the US House's website by entering your zip code in the box on the top left of the home page.
- Become involved in your local NOW chapter. Go to http://panow.org/ for more information. Or contact Pennsylvania NOW at either firstname.lastname@example.org or at 814-280-8571.
Join the Cause: Join NOW!
Join the National Organization for Women
Annual dues are $45.00 per year. Sliding scale dues are also available. You can join NOW at http://panow.org/pages/members.htm or by filling out our Membership Form and mailing it along with your check or credit card number to Pennsylvania NOW, P.O. Box 68, Bellefonte, PA 16823.