Gender Equality. Or is it?

It may be the era of Netflix’s “House of Cards,” but Northeast Indiana is still stuck in the era of “Mad Men”—at least in the workplace. Generally speaking and according to my research, women are not treated equally when it comes to wages, and they are suffering the consequences.

Data from the National Partnership for Women & Families, a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)3 organization located in Washington, D.C., says it all:

“In Indiana, a woman who holds a full-time job is paid, on average, $33,419 per year while a man who holds a full-time job is paid $45,620 per year. This means that women in Indiana are paid 73 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a yearly wage gap of $12,201 between men and women who work full time in the state. Nationally, women who hold jobs full time, year round are paid, on average, just 77 cents for every dollar paid to men. For women of color, the wage gap is larger. On average, African American women are paid 64 cents and Latinas are paid just 54 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.”

The wage gap is a barrier to women from all walks of life, but female-headed households suffer the most. According to the Partnership, 304,294 family households in Indiana are headed by women. Of these families, about 34 percent, or 102,547 family households, have incomes that fall below the poverty level.

This pay inequity leaves women with less income to pay for life’s necessities, including health care, housing, childcare and groceries. It also results in lower Social Security benefits for women when they retire, according to the YWCA Northeast Indiana’s website.

While the pay gap between men and women in the United States is certainly smaller than it was in 1960, the current rate of change is not enough to realize significant progress, according to an article from Newsweek. “If the progress continues at the same rate we’ve seen over the last few decades, the income divide won’t close until 2058, according a report released in March by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a Washington, D.C.–based think tank,” Newsweek reported.

While most people accept the status quo, there have been examples of women taking action—both national and locally—to raise awareness about pay disparity. Case in point: A bake sale at a high school in Utah created a stir in March. Why? Because they sold the same item—chocolate cookies—for two different prices: 77 cents and $1.00.

“Because in America, for every dollar a man makes, a woman only makes 77 cents. So we’re raising awareness for this. So boys will pay a dollar and girls only pay 77 cents,” Kari Schott, of Jordan High School, said in a story reported by ABC 4 Utah.

Schott and her friends from the Young Democrats club sold some cookies, raised some money and created controversy and sent an important message to the school: women deserve equal pay for equal work.

Locally, the YWCA Northeast Indiana is taking a stand on this contentious issue. Each year this organization partners with others, like the Women’s Bureau and the League of Women Voters, to raise awareness about pay disparity and the Fair Pay Act. This year, the Equal Pay Day event was held on April 14. For more information about the Fair Pay Act, visit
www.ywca.org/NEIN.

Progress is underway, but full equality? Not yet says the research.


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