The Center for American Progress Action Fund focused on the Career Wage in a recent report on pay equity between men and women. The “Career Wage Gap” is the difference in income between men and women that occurs over a long period of time (without intentional discrimination). This is different from the “gender gap” that only considers the annual difference in median wages of men and women who are employed full-time and excludes women who work part-time or take time away from the workforce for unpaid family care giving. Lower earnings naturally make it harder for women to provide education, child care, and basic supports for their children, as well as to build assets like home ownership. Moreover, the income gap translates into a retirement gap as well.
At current rates, the average full-time female worker loses approximately $434,000 in wages over a 40-year period as a direct result of the gender pay gap… Women with a college degree or higher lose $713,000 over a 40-year period versus a $270,000 loss for women who did not finish high school. The gap exceeds $300,000 in 15 states, $400,000 in 22 states, and $500,000 in 11 states.
Check out this map to see these gaps illustrated nationally.
Currently, the average woman earns 78 cents for every dollar a man makes over a year. Women who work year-round still earn less than men in comparable jobs and at all educational levels. The wage gap increases over a woman’s lifetime and is even worse for African-American and Hispanic women.
According to the National Women’s Law center, Latinas and African American women earn 52 and 63 cents on the dollar, respectively, compared to white male counterparts. This means women of color must work twice as hard to provide for their families and survive.
Conservative Supreme Court Justices Alito, Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy and Thomas recently dealt a blow against pay equity. In the case Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co (2007) Lilly Ledbetter sued for gender-based pay discrimination. The jury agreed and awarded her $223,776 in back pay for her 19 years with Goodyear. Unfortunately, due to what dissenting Justice Ginsberg states is a “cramped interpretation” of title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the court decided that employers are protected from lawsuits over race or gender discrimination if the claims are based on decisions made over 180 prior or more. In other words, “she should have sued sooner,” was their justification for not compensating her for discrimination that they admit did occur. Outrageous! Take action.
Contributed by Marcela Villa, DC Policy Intern