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On Equal Pay Day, Women Fight the Wage Gap

Today is the 11th annual Equal Pay Day, marking the additional time that women must work in 2007 to earn what men earned in 2006. The National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) initiated Equal Pay Day in 1996 to increase public awareness of the wage gap between women and men. In 1963, women earned 59 cents for every dollar men earned. Although earnings for women have increased, the wage gap persists today. Among full-time, year-round workers, women now earn 77 cents, on average, for every dollar that men earn.

Behind the Pay Gap, a report released Monday by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Educational Foundation, exposes the disparity in wages between college-educated women and men. The report analyzed data from the US Department of Education on nearly 20,000 college graduates from the years 1992-93 and 1999-2000 and found that women earn 80 percent of what men make just one year after college — a gap that widens to 69 percent after ten years.

Additionally, the report shows that the wage gap persists despite women’s educational achievement. In college, women maintained higher grade point averages and outperformed men academically in all subjects, including science and math. Catherine Hill, director of research at AAUW, says the findings show that “educational achievement alone” will not eliminate the wage gap. “We need to make workplaces more family-friendly, reduce sex segregation in education and in the workplace, and combat discrimination in the workplace.” She and the AAUW argue for tougher legislation to eliminate the wage gap by requiring equal pay for comparable jobs, Reuters reports.

On last year’s Equal Pay Day, NCPE joined with women’s business groups to establish a grassroots organization, the WAGE (Women Are Getting Even) Project, which encourages and enables individual and collective action to end the wage gap. NCPE gives guidelines on its website for businesses and individuals to advocate for equal pay legislation for women and people of color. In addition, to symbolize collective action today, activists are asked to wear red as a symbol of how women and minorities are “in the red” with their pay.

Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representatives Eleanor Homes Norton (D-DC) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) will speak at a rally organized by Women Work!, the National Network for Women’s Employment, NCPE, and AAUW this afternoon on Capitol Hill.

Sources:

National Committee on Pay Equity 4/23/07, MSNBC 4/23/07, Associated Press 4/23/07, Reuters 4/23/07

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