Equal Pay -- 45 Years Later

In 1963, Congress passed the Equal Pay Act, which stated:

(d) (1) No employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions
Gee, that sounds so . . . . How shall I say it? . . . . . Egalitarian? Utopian? Lofty?


How about: Simple. Logical. Fair. A No-Brainer.

The statistics below are for all women and men in the USA:
In 1970, women, on average, earned 61 cents for every dollar men earned.
In 1985, women earned 65 cents for every dollar men earned.
In 2000, women earned 74 cents for every dollar men earned.
Today, women earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn.
On average, African-American women earn 63 cents, and Latinas earn 52 cents for every dollar paid to white men today.

Which starts to look . . . . how shall I say it? . . . . .

Oh, I know! -- Stupid. Sexist. Racist. UNFAIR.

In the nearly half-a-century since Congress momentarily snapped out of its somnambulant haze and decided to address one of the most glaring evidences of institutionalized sexism, women have gained an overall average of 16 cents/dollar in wage equity.

Before you get out the champagne and start reminding me that this is progress, let's put it into perspective, shall we?

The gains that have been made toward overall pay equity since the EPA passed in 1963 calculate out at a rise of a third of a penny per year -- and women are still making 23% less than men.

Let's talk about that in real terms.

Take the median income of the US population -- $44,334/year. Now, whack off that 23% -- which leaves you with an annual income of $34,138/year. Anybody want to take that pay cut?

Anyone want to work an extra 9.2 hours every week just to make up the difference?

Anyone? Anyone?

Right. I thought not.

I've had people (yes, usually men, but not always) tell me that feminism is no longer necessary, because women actually have equality now. I've even had people tell me that women have more rights than men in our society (yes, usually asshats Men's Rights Advocates, but not always).

What I want to say to them on this day -- Blog for Fair Pay Day -- is this:

You think that I, as a woman, have more rights than a man, and that women are now treated equally in our culture?


Let's swap.

I'll take that 23% pay increase, and you can have all my "extra" rights (along with, of course, all the other misogynist, sexist crap that I've dealt with in my life).

So, do we have a deal?

(On a serious note, there is action for you to take regarding equal pay for women -- visit the National Women's Law Center and read about the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, contact your Senators, and Blog for Fair Pay today, April 18th, 2008.)

h/t to Shark-fu at AngryBlackBitch, whose blog is not to be missed.

Posted byPortlyDyke at 1:00 AM  


Anonymous said... April 18, 2008 at 1:12 PM  

When you compare overall wages for males and females you are comparing apples and oranges. Women work fewer hours and usually choose jobs that are easier (more flexible hours, shorter commutes, less overnight travel, less danger, less math, more human contact). You can't compare the salaries of a female elementary school teacher to a male engineer, different jobs, different pay. The relevant statistic is this: Do male and female wages FOR THE SAME WORK differ? The answer is no. When men and women do the same work, they make the same pay. Everyone knows that systematic preferences for male employees would result in a lawsuit in 2 seconds flat. Also, if women could really be paid 23% less for the same work, smart businesses would hire all female employees and gain a giant advantage on the competition. it doesn't happen because the wage gap is a myth.

PortlyDyke said... April 18, 2008 at 1:51 PM  

Actually, you're quite incorrect, and in fact, the name of the Lilly Ledbetter Act comes from a case where Ms. Ledbetter was paid less for precisely the same work, and sued, but the court decided against her because of a 180 day requirement. Problem is, many companies make employees sign a contract stating that they WILL NOT reveal what they make, so it's very difficult to find out if your male co-worker is making more than you for the same job.

Also, job titles are manipulated as a way to skirt the fact that two workers are doing the same job but getting paid differently.

Studies show that you are dead wrong, and that a pay gap does exist -- for the same work, in many, many fields -- get educated, please:

Oh, and if you don't have the guts to identify yourself, please keep your sexism off my blog.

Anonymous said... April 18, 2008 at 5:27 PM  

that was an extremely hostile response. i'm the only person to even comment on your post, you'd think you'd be a little less arrogant towards the only guest you have. you have your facts wrong, here's one of many analyses that shows the wage gap is a myth: http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba/ba392/ba392.pdf

also, you didn't address the obvious logical flaws: why don't businesses hire all women if they are 23% cheaper? and why aren't there a million lawsuits by underpaid women? please don't think that feminist dogma substitutes for the facts and since when has telling the truth been sexist? i believe that people who do the same work should get the same pay and THEY DO. what's sexist about that?

PortlyDyke said... April 18, 2008 at 6:59 PM  

"i'm the only person to even comment on your post, you'd think you'd be a little less arrogant towards the only guest you have."

Oh kiddo -- you make me laugh, you really do -- this is my "home blog" where a few cherished readers partake -- this post was cross-posted at Shakespeare's Sister.

If women and men get paid the same amount for the same job, why did Lilly Ledbetter need to sue?

Again, if you don't have the guts to ID yourself, keep your sexist, and incorrect shit, off my blog. Fair warning. I will delete your future comments.

Anonymous said... April 18, 2008 at 7:46 PM  

goodbye, portly. i would like just once to run into a feminist who could win an argument with facts instead of just resorting to insults and dogma. it's a bad sign when truth is the enemy.

PortlyDyke said... April 18, 2008 at 9:08 PM  

"i would like just once to run into a feminist who could win an argument with facts instead of just resorting to insults and dogma. it's a bad sign when truth is the enemy."

The facts? You honestly expect me to debate "facts" from a report from the NCPA, a conservative think-tank which denies global warming? (Tell it to the ice-caps.)

What's truly laughable is that the "graph" provided in the NCPA's "report" included wage statistics that the Bureau of Labor itself revised once the 2000 census population controls were available (see update for Highlights of Women's Earnings in 2000", which was the cited "source" for the NCPA's report -- too bad they didn't update their "myth" article when the report was revised -- but hey, that's not SEXISM at work, or anything.)

Anyway, the first paragraph of the Women's Earnings in 2000 BLS report says: "In 2000, median weekly earnings for female full-time wage and salary workers were $491, or 76 percent of the $646 median for their male counterparts."

Oh, and guess what -- even in best case scenario (never married women compared to never married men) -- women STILL made only 91.3% of what men made in comparable jobs.

So, even in the "best case", I'd gladly swap you for that 8.7% raise -- at median income, it would be around another $4G a year.

Yep. You're right -- it's bad when truth is the enemy.

It's even worse when people twist the facts to attempt to create a truth that is a lie.

NameChanged said... April 19, 2008 at 8:03 AM  

And speaking of teachers...ahem...who do you think teaches the engineers, anon? Do they just burst from the womb engineering?

Also, women are steered to lower paying careers because they are still expected to do the lion's share of the domestic work, no matter how many hours they put in. So logically, they choose a job with fewer hours so that they don't lose their fucking minds.

And Portly, it's good to see you again.

Anonymous said... April 19, 2008 at 8:56 AM  

i wasn't going to post anymore, but i am encouraged that you are at least looking at the numbers. unfortunately, comparing unmarried men and women still doesn't get at it because we don't know if they are working comparable jobs. remember, the question is not: Do men earn more than women. Everyone knows that's true. If men work longer hours at more difficult jobs and didn't get paid more, that would be wage discrimination against men. So, the question is: Do men get more than women for working the same job? to answer that you have to look at people in similar jobs. turns out that my employer does that every few years, they look at salaries for all 20,000 or so employees to determine if men and women with the same positions make the same salary. and the answer is yes, they do. in today's legal climate it would be impossible for an employer to pay men much more than women with the same jobs.

so why do femisists keep pushing the wage gap myth? i think one of the reasons is the victim role has become so important to feminists that they refuse to see equality even when it's staring them in the face.
The second reason is that equalizing overall earnings for men and women will require big changes in gender roles and expectations. These changes would give men more options and choices and require sacrifices from women. More women would have to be willing to work longer hours at harder jobs like men. Men could choose to be stay at home dads, or to to have lower paying, but more personally rewarding jobs. Right now men who make those choices face social opprobrium. The term "loser" is usually reserved for low earning, low status men. And one of young women's main complaints about a prospective mate is that he's not "ambitious enough". Translation: "I might have to be the breadwinner instead of HIM." and of course, high earning "alpha males" have women chasing them down the block.

if women want to earn more money, they will have to make the same sacrifices that men now make and they will have to change their expectations to allow men to choose other options without paying such a heavy price for that choice. this is not a message that most feminists seem ready to hear. but anyone who actually believes in equality should be in favor of it.

PortlyDyke said... April 19, 2008 at 9:30 AM  

You know, if you're going to storm out in a huff, I'd prefer you remain stormed out. The dramatic exit thing doesn't work so much if you keep coming back. :lol:

But since you've come back -- consider this -- Walmart faced the largest class-action suit in US history -- because of systematic discrimination in promotion of female employees -- 1.6 MILLION of them -- but hey -- all this discrimination stuff is just a myth, right?

Anonymous said... April 19, 2008 at 11:15 AM  

as for wal-mart, yeah sure, some cases of discrimination do exist, and people can sue when they are treated unfairly, but as i've made clear, overall, men and women do not get paid different wages for the same work. even the wal-mart suit was about preferential promotion not about same job, different pay. wal-mart also has a reputation as one of the most exploitive of all employers.

i noticed that you never actually address any of my points. for example, don't you agree that men have fewer realistic options than women? don't men face far more pressure to "make it" than women? and aren't women's attitudes about men as "success objects" part of the problem? don't women have to be willing to change too? as i see it most american feminists have gotten away from advocating true equality and gender neutrality because at this point it'll require sacrifices from women to get there. they only want men to give things up, they never want men to expand their options. the snarky comment by your one other guest demonstrates this bias. she bemoans men doing less housework. well, all the studies have shown that the total workload for men and women is about equal. men work longer hours at their jobs, and women do more housework. should men work longer outside the home and inside the home than woman? is THAT equality? or would that be sex discrimination against men? i can speak for almost all men when i say if a woman goes out and makes $300,000 a year at a high stress, high status job, we'd be happy to quit our jobs, bake cookies, supervise the maid and go shopping at the mall. no problem. in fact, it seems like the best scam going. i'll even throw in mowing the lawn as a bonus. and i would not expect my precious breadwinner to wash the dishes when she got home from her big job. hell, i have the whole day to wash dishes. and Maria will be there to help, too.

PortlyDyke said... April 19, 2008 at 12:20 PM  

"for example, don't you agree that men have fewer realistic options than women?"


"don't men face far more pressure to "make it" than women?"

No. Just a different kind of pressure.

"and aren't women's attitudes about men as "success objects" part of the problem?"

Maybe, but until a woman can be a success in her own right, and is supported by society to be so, women will tend to be valued not for themselves, but for the status of the man they associate with as a mate. Hence, the notion that a "spinster" is an undesirable thing, whereas a "bachelor" is a desireable thing.

"don't women have to be willing to change too?"

Yes. That's part of feminism.

Anonymous said... April 19, 2008 at 3:11 PM  


I enjoyed watching someone else besides me catch hell on Glenn's site :)

Nice article too -- please visit more often~!
Georgia Girl

Names4things said... April 21, 2008 at 7:36 AM  

I think it's mildly interesting that "anonymous" thinks men are held to a higher standard for achievement than women. I guess that's why I, as a black woman (a demographic I selected to enable my victimization) pay so much less for the same things. When I buy groceries, they automatically deduct a percentage of the cost, because less is expected from me, right? And since I live in Harlem, fresh produce is way more expensive, because I am apparently expected to need less of it, right?

What a load of cowardly lyin' 'anonymous' achieves, and with such fervor. I think he is probably having a hard time making it, as so many of us are, in the world now. But to defend that system keeps him in the rear of the pack too. Strange, how that works, isn't it?

I appreciate your blog, link it from my own, and look forward to your inclusive, incisive, and/or amusing posts.

D said... April 23, 2008 at 6:08 PM  

Anonymous has a point: These statistics gain value when we adjust for type of job and hours worked.

When we do so, the wage gap shrinks a bit, but it is still there.

However, Anonymous, the never-married-men-to-never-married-women stat that PD gave you wasn't exactly what you asked for, but it is relevant to your question. Here's why: You said that women choose part-time and lower-energy jobs. One of the reasons that they do this is that in today's corporate climate, promotion often means transfer. If one person in a married couple is about to get promoted, then the two of them need to decide whose career they're going to make a priority because advancing one career means interrupting the other. More married couple's choose the man's career than the woman's. This isn't bad. It's just what tends to happen. Comparing never-married to never-married removes this one favor that can steer women into those lower-paying jobs that you described.

Now what would be great would be if companies stopped viewing their employees as interchangeable parts in an effort to keep them from putting down community roots and get them to think of the company as family when really the only employer that really holds up their end of the deal on that is the military but I digress.

Minor arithmetical/sentence structure issue issue: If women make 77% as much as men, then men are making about 30% more, not 23% more. See, the POV in the sentence changes and we're looking at 100 being 130% of 77 instead of 77 being 77% of 100.

Post a Comment