April 12 is the national observance of Equal Pay Day, the day when women and men alike recognize the wage gap between working women and men. The United States Census Bureau found in 2010 that women are paid, on average, 77 cents for every dollar men make. That is a gap of 23 cents.
Here in Missouri women’s pay doesn’t even measure up to the national average. We are paid just 75 percent of men’s pay.
Here are four ways to close the pay gap from the National Committee on Pay Equity:
First, we need to keep affirmative action programs in place to make sure education, jobs and promotion opportunities are open and offered to qualified women.
Second, employers must examine and correct their pay practices.
Employers can get help in examining their pay practices through equal pay self-audit guidelines from the US Department of Labor.
Third, women must stand up for equal pay and for themselves. If a prospective employer cannot show that women and men are paid equally for the job you’re seeking, it makes sense to look elsewhere.
Positive signs include a hiring process that seeks diversity through affirmative action, written pay and benefit policies, job descriptions and evaluation procedures. A union for workers is another good sign.
Women in unions earn 35 percent more than women in non-union workplaces.
Women who are paid less than men must discuss the problem with their employer. If there’s a union ask their help. If discrimination persists, file a complaint the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
A fourth way to close the pay gap is through federal legislation such as the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Fair Pay Act. That’s not a solution popular with employers, but it may be necessary. For employers who continue to pay women less, legal penalties or EEOC action may be the only remedies.
Pay equity legislation is being introduced across the country and
Missouri is no different. House Bill 349, introduced by State
Representative Stacey Newman, requires equal pay for equal work; would establishes a state commission to study wage disparity and requires employers to document their wages. Pay inequity not only hurts women, but their families as well.
-Jennifer Weisbrod, Senior at University of Missouri, Legislative
Intern for Rep. Stacey Newman 73rd District