Edgy Mama: Pay discrimination — working moms pay the price

Women working full-time, year-round earn only about 77 cents for every dollar earned by men in the same positions. Yes, that’s in 2010 — 46 years after President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act (EPA) into law, making gender pay disparity illegal (data courtesy of The National Women’s Law Center and MomsRising.org).

To add insult to injury, a month ago, The Paycheck Fairness Act, which would expand damages under the EPA and help show employers how to get rid of unfair pay, was defeated in the U.S. Senate. This makes me spitting mad.

There is no equal pay for equal work in this country. Not only are women still low on the pay totem pole, but moms, single moms, and minority women are even lower. We’re the dirt under the pole. To wit: women without children typically make up to 90 cents to a man’s dollar. Mothers make 73 to 77 cents to a man’s dollar. Single moms make 56-66 cents to a man’s dollar. African American women earned just 63 cents for every man’s dollar, and Hispanic women earned only 52 cents on that man’s dollar. Now I’m beyond spitting — I’m madder than a nest of hornets — that’s just been stomped on by a man.

And I adore men (for the most part). I can’t blame most of you guys for this inexorable state of affairs. But I can blame those men who wield the world’s remote controls, including the Senators who voted against the PFA.

You may try to tell me that this inequality reflects women’s choices; such as the one I made 13 years ago, which was to work only part-time in order stay home with my kids. But that’s not the case.

“In fact, 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,” per the National Women’s Law Center’s pay equity fact sheet.

So that leaves basic gender discrimination as the culprit. And prejudice against women who choose to procreate and/or fall into the minority categories. And it’s not based on education or socio-economic status — the pay gap persists across all levels (or lack of levels). In fact, while earning a bachelor’s degree yields a median annual of income of $38,221 for women, it gives men, on average, $55,425 per year. That’s just patently wrong.

So what now? How do we redress this discrimination and illegality? Especially now that The Payment Fairness Act’s been dissed by the people we elected? Oh yeah, Senators, fyi, more than half of this country’s work force is now women. This is the first time in the history of the U.S. that working women outnumber working men. And we can and will vote.

I guess that’s the answer. N.C. Senator Kay Hagan voted FOR the act, while our other Senator, Richard Burr, voted against it. Yep, Hagan has ovaries, and Burr has, well, male apparatus. I’m sure he also probably has some song and dance about why something in the act was inappropriate for his constituency. Or it could just be that big “R” after his name that influenced his “no” vote.

At this time, it’s not clear whether or not the PFA can be revived or not in a slightly different form. But something has to be done to hold employers accountable for sexual pay discrimination.

I don’t accept this inequality. Do you?



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6 thoughts on “Edgy Mama: Pay discrimination — working moms pay the price

  1. Passing another law is likely not the answer. If employers are currently in violation of the Equal Pay Act, then they aren’t going to just fall in line with any new legislation.

    What counts is actual enforcement of the law. Unfortunately, as soon as you file a complaint with the state or federal DOL you will likely find yourself hunting a new job. Again, probably patently illegal.

    But, so is jaywalking, and how often do you see that law broken? How often do you see it enforced?

    I absolutely agree that this is an issue that needs to be addressed, mostly as part of a larger issue of income disparity in general (the gaps between the top wage earners and bottom wage earners are at historically unprecedented and unsustainable levels) but I do think that the answer lies primarily in drawing attention to existing guidelines and demanding enforcement.

    Remember, Jim Crow was illegal under the Constitution for almost 100 years before the Civil Rights movement.

  2. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Edgy, this will change only when the broader inequalities and traditional gender roles in our culture change to a greater degree, perhaps in another twenty years.

    Women in the US are still second-class citizens in every social and economic aspect, and in spite of women finally cracking open traditional male occupations such as real estate, law, and school administration, and now being the majority gender in schools of medicine, women still do the lower-paying service jobs that men refuse to do.

    We are a nation built on English common law and religion that glorify the perceived superiority of men and the subservience of women, both of which are blatantly ingrained in our daily lives; but women are quietly breaking out of that mold in not-so-surprising ways. More than half the people of marriageable age are now unmarried, and in spite of high-profile and vocal religious zealots, church attendance is declining.

    By the way, the Equal Rights Amendment is still three states short of the 35 needed for ratification. North Carolina is one of the states that voted it down.

    Here’s an interesting and comical site entered by Mat Cat in a MtnX forum under the title “Nothing says Merry Christmas like an assault rifle” that illustrates the situation.


    On the surface, this gift guide is innocuous, as are most such guides, but look inside at the nature of the suggested gifts. The gifts for a woman are adornments to make her body more attractive. The gifts for a man are things that he can do something with. Unfortunately, even our children are subject to these differences.

  3. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Oops, correction. The ERA requires 38 states for ratification.

    The Equal Rights Amendment, first proposed in 1923 to affirm that women and men have equal rights under the law, is still not part of the U.S. Constitution.

    The ERA was passed out of Congress in 1972 and has been ratified by 35 of the necessary 38 states. When three more states vote yes, it is possible that the ERA could become the 28th Amendment. The ERA could also be ratified by restarting the traditional process of passage by a two-thirds majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives, followed by ratification by legislatures in three-quarters (38) of the 50 states.

    The Equal Rights Amendment was introduced in the Senate on December 10 by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who has picked up the ERA torch from the late Sen. Edward Kennedy as lead Senate sponsor.

    The ERA was reintroduced in the House of Representatives on July 21, 2009. Lead sponsors are Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL).

    (Alice Paul Institute)

  4. Jesco White

    Women earn 77% because they take twice as much leave as their male counterparts, leave early, and come in later. Just because you may or may not have kids doesn’t mean you can come and go when you please. In addition, men have families to take care of. Single parents should not be glorified in society. They are one of the biggest problems this country is facing.

  5. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Yep, Jesco. I’ve heard that same junk many times over the decades–and always from male offscourings that no self-respecting woman would have anything to do with, at least not for long.

  6. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Once again Supreme Court Justice Scalia argues that the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not protect against discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation because that is not what was intended in 1869 when it was passed. He also argues that it is up to the states to make laws providing such protection.


    Remember, in 1996 Justice Scalia cast the sole vote in favor of allowing the Virginia Military Institute to continue denying women admission?

    And remember, too, that the ERA still needs to be ratified by three more states? Shamefully, North Carolina is one of the states that voted it down.

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