I committed to college a month ago. As a young woman, I can take comfort in the fact that I will be receiving a higher education while job creation is increasing and Time Magazine claims that 41 women are among the 100 most influential people in the world.
Even so, I am left feeling concerned about my future. Not at college, but after I graduate. As it stands now, regardless of education and experience, I will be paid 77 cents for every dollar that a man earns at the same job.
America is making progress with other forms of discrimination: homosexual marriage is becoming more accepted and the President is an African-American. So why do we allow sexism to thrive? Women are left being paid less than men with equivalent education and experience.
And get this: it’s been going on for decades. Little has changed since the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963. So here we are, in 2014, with a significant gender wage gap. What is most frustrating is the fact that federal legislators refuse to pass legislation attempting to resolve this problem.
This issue is not about a particular political party or who will get elected in November. This is about equality. A core American value.
In failing the Paycheck Fairness Act, the legislators are telling millions of working women that they do not deserve equal pay. Next, I’m expecting to be told that I cannot obtain a college degree and should only raise children and please my husband. Wake up! It’s not 1950 anymore.
According to the National Organization for Women, the average working woman will lose approximately $400,000 in her working life due to wage discrimination. That is equal to nearly eight years of the average annual income, according to the United States Census.
To clarify: the average working woman is essentially working eight years for free.
The money women lose through the gender wage gap impacts them for their entire lives. That $400,000 could have been used to help women pay off their student loan debt, buy a house, invest, or save for the future. It impacts the amount of debt that women have to worry about and can even impact when they are able to retire.
And that’s not all! The gender wage gap is also racist. Within the group of women that are being paid unfairly, the women that are minorities are being paid even less. According to the White House, African-American women make 64 cents and Latina women make 56 cents for every dollar a Caucasian man makes.
Women all across the country have been able to vote since 1920, still our voices are not being heard on this topic: we have a right to equal pay. So talk about it with your children, with your classmates, with your coworkers, and talk about it at the dinner table. This issue is not going away.
Maybe then, by the time I graduate from college, the legislators will understand that equality applies to all.