Women in all different industries from all over the United States, such as Sheryl Sandberg, are standing up for their rights and demanding equal pay.
“It’s indisputable that there’s a real pay gap. … Every woman, every girl, deserves to get paid what they’re worth.” Sandberg told the Huffington Post in 2014.
In the United States, a woman working full time earns 79 cents for every dollar a man working full time earns.
The wage gap has existed for many decades, from the early-19th century to today. During the height of the Industrial Revolution, female workers were constantly paid less than their fellow male workers. Throughout the 1800s, male government employees were paid more than female ones, and there would often be strikes at companies because women were paid less than men.
There have been many legislative attempts to address the issue of the wage gap. For example, in 1947, U.S. Secretary of Labor Lewis B. Schwellenbach tried to pass equal pay for the private sector but was unsuccessful. Sixteen years later, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 was passed, which made unequal pay based on gender illegal. This was powerful legislation, but sadly, the wage gap still lived on.
More recently, President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This bill states that the 180-day time period to file a lawsuit over pay discrimination resets after each new paycheck, making it less complicated for people to contest unequal pay.
Benefits of equal pay
Even today, not everyone agrees with equal pay. Some believe the government should not try to fix the wage gap because they think doing so would interfere with the free market.
However, there are many economic benefits of equal pay. If women are paid the same amount as men, on average, the poverty of working women living alone and with families would be cut in half. Also, when women are given the paychecks they deserve, it will boost the economy. Approximately 60 percent of women will gain pay, and these gains would boost the gross domestic product by 2.9 percent. These economic gains would help every person, male or female, in the U.S.
Clearly, there are many economic benefits to fair wages, but there is also an ethical argument in its favor. If the U.S. is considered the land of equal opportunity, why is 47 percent of the workforce not being given the same salaries as their male counterparts? Giving women equal pay is honoring their equal rights, and is the morally sound thing to do.
In 2016, the White House passed an Equal Pay Pledge that private companies can sign to support equal pay and agree to conduct a yearly analysis of pay by gender, and many companies have signed. Also, companies such as Facebook Inc., Apple Inc., and Microsoft Corp. have released statements saying that they give their employees equal pay. It is an incredible step that so many high-profile companies are showing their support of equal pay.
In short, the wage gap is not a myth. Equal Pay Day, most recently on April 4, 2017, shows the reality of the wage gap. This means that the average woman would have to work all of 2016 and until April 4, 2017, to earn what the average man would earn in 2016.
Equal pay has many economic benefits for all Americans, and it is simply the right thing to do. It is time to destroy the wage gap, once and for all.
Maya Chandra is a freshman at St. Francis High School.