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Equal Pay For Equal Work

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According to a New York Times article from 2012, women only earn 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. I believe that women should be paid equally to their male counterparts.There are many arguments as to why women are paid less than men, and there are many ways people rationalize paying men more than women, but a few attempts are being made to challenge and solve the problem of pay inequality.
One reason often given for pay inequality is called “the motherhood penalty”. It is one of the more obvious reasons for the wage gap. Becoming a mother usually involves taking more time off work. In a recent article from the New York Times, Eduardo Porter states that, “There are policies in place that could help diminish women’s pay deficit by increasing flexibility in the workplace and easing a woman's family burden.” In other words, women might accept less pay to have a more flexible schedule. This flexible schedule would be all too important for a woman with children. Illness, involvement in activities, and the need for emotional support, can take a parent away from work and create a need for flexibility in that environment. In Craig Ferguson’s book, American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot, he says ““I think when you become a parent you go from being a star in the movie of your own life to the supporting player in the movie of someone else's.”
How women are portrayed in the media also has an impact on pay inequality. Most of us probably wouldn’t associate the media with a women’s paycheck, but it plays a bigger part than we think. The Sourcebook for Teaching Science references the A.C. Nielsen Co. as saying that in a 65 year old life, the average person will have spent 9 years of their life watching TV. According to an article on Time magazine’s website, “...the more TV children watch, the more accepting they are of occupational gender stereotypes.” This proves that the media’s portrayals of women can strongly affect how women see themselves in the future. In Twilight, Bella, the main female character, is shown as weak and dependent on her boyfriend to save her from danger. A damsel in distress. In The Bachelor, they objectify women by making them something that you win. The media’s portrayals of they could be one of the reasons why women don’t choose higher paying jobs.
Choice of job is another big reason for the wage gap. According to a study done by the American Association of University Women, women only account for 18% of engineering majors; whereas they account for 79% of education majors. I don’t think I had a male teacher until middle school! Also some women would rather stay away from the more dangerous jobs, that are sometimes higher paying. These choices impact the overall statistics regarding pay inequality. I think that this is changing as young girls are encouraged to pursue careers in traditionally high paying fields.
In last year’s presidential election, both candidates addressed the issue of women’s pay equality. The two campaigns presented many diverse views on the subject, but one thing they were able to agree on was that they needed the votes of women. Mitt Romney seemed, for the most part, on the defensive when discussing this topic. Once, he unwittingly stated that he had “binders full of women”, when referring to the fact that he has the resources to hire a countless number of women. At a post debate rally in Chesapeake, Virginia he claimed that “This president has failed america’s women.” However I don’t believe this to be necessarily true.

Recently president Obama stated “I’ve got two daughters, I don’t want them paid less than a man for doing the same job.” His actions during his presidency prove this statement. Particularly in supporting the Lilly Ledbetter Act, a recent attempt to “close the gap between women’s and men’s wages,” that statement was taken from the Act’s website. The Lilly Ledbetter Act is one of the most recent attempts to close the gap, however, it is not the first.
There have been quite a few efforts to close the wage gap over the years. On of the first was the Equal Pay Act of 1963, and according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s website, “The Equal Pay Act requires that men and women be given equal pay for equal work in the same establishment.” Shortly After the Equal Pay Act was passed, the United States government created the U.S. Equal Employment Agency to enforce “...federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee...” This is according to an article on their website. Earlier I mentioned the Lilly Ledbetter Act which was passed in 2009 and,according to the act’s website, was the first new law of Obama’s presidency. The act was created by Lilly Ledbetter who is very passionate about getting equal pay for woman. All of these actions have contributed to closing the gap between men and women’s wages, but there still is no solution.
During my research on the topic of pay equality, I have learned many new things. I never would have thought that the media would affect pay equality! Now I know that there are a lot of different opinions on the wage gap, and I have begun to understand why it has been a reality for so long. There is hope for more equality as America continues to search for an answer. One thing is clear though, we are on the road to a solution. I just hope we reach it before I have to start hunting for a job.




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