Today is the point in 2010 when the average woman’s wages finally catch up to her male counterpart’s salary from the prior year and the impetus for Blog For Fair Pay Day. The average pay gap between men and women in America is $10,662.00 and the theme for this year is “What would it mean if there weren’t a $10,662 wage gap?”
In 1963 President John F. Kennedy signed The Equal Pay Act making it illegal to pay women and men different wages for the same work. Fast forward to 2010 and that gap has still not closed. I’ve been working since the age of 16 with only a few months between then and now when I was unemployed. As a young married woman in the late ’70’s I wasn’t concerned with whether men were making more money than I, as a woman. I was too concerned with the day to day struggle of making my meager earnings stretch to cover my husbands and my living expenses while my husband finished college. We lived in a government subsidized apartment, I car-pooled to work with friends and we ate a lot of macaroni and cheese. Once my husband finished college, we moved to New Orleans where he began his career and our lives became financially and emotionally comfortable. But I know how fortunate I am and I know there are many, many women who still have to stretch their dollars eating lots of macaroni and cheese and many of them have children to raise and provide for as well. These are our sisters out there busting their butts trying to make a decent living wage for themselves and their children with little to no help from anyone else. Fighting for fair wages may be a luxury they can’t afford for now so it’s up to the rest of us to carry the torch for them.
On January 29, 2009, President Obama signed the first act of Congress of his presidency, The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. Lilly Ledbetter amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964, stating 180-day limitation for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new discriminatory paycheck, thereby ending the discrimination sanctioned by The Supreme Courts’ decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
A companion legislation, The Paycheck Fairness Act, passed the House in January 2009 and is currently in the Senate where it’s languishing. Here is a link where you can write your senators urging them to pass this important legislation.
Additionally, here is the 2008 American Community Survey of Men & Women’s Earnings By State which shows Louisiana women earned less than 75.4 percent of what men earned for that year.
All the stastistics in the world, though, cannot put a face to the thousands of women who are affected by the disparity in pay so for my blog post I decided to poll some of the hard-working women I know to find out how that extra $10,662.00 could be put to use in their lives.
I would personally use the extra money to create a savings and investing plan to double that number. I would take it as an opportunity to build wealth and work on other independent projects I have for the future.
Shercole’s websites: New Orleans Tech, Minority Weirdos, Good Nola
As a single mother, this is a significant question because such a pay increase means the absolute difference between being able to do things and not being able to do them, as I have no secondary male income to pick up the slack. I would:
#1 Get the neglected dental work done that I can’t afford, but that would hopefully be a one-time expense that would take up more than half of the increase. With the remainder, or in a dental work-free year, I would also
#2 Shop at places like Whole Foods, where I could and buy better quality food for myself and my kids without worrying so much about the cost.
#3 Take my kids on an actual vacation that’s not an evacuation. We haven’t had one in over 10 years.
#4 Take my kids out to dinner once in a while for something other than fast food, pizza or Chinese food and occasionally say yes when friends want me to join them out for a meal.
#5 Put some away so that maybe I could grow a little wealth and retire with fewer worries one day.
~~Lisa, Professor, University of New Orleans,and mother of two
Because I have pre-existing medical conditions, I am currently without health insurance. Due to the nature of my health problems, monthly doctor visits and prescriptions are required, being paid out-of-pocket on the salaries that my husband and I make. The additionally $10,662 would off-set my health care expenses, my monthly health care expenses, spending nearly $1000/month maintaining my health care needs. This would help my family tremendously, to meet our monthly living expenses and not only fulfill all of our needs, but perhaps some of our wants as well.
~~Amanda Mueller, independent journalist and human rights activist, married, one child
Amanda’s websites: Dateline Palestine , Je ne regrette rien
With $10,662 more a year I could have provided more for my children—simple things like health care and art programs. We would have had our own house because I wouldn’t have always been trying to scrimp pennies to get by. These days, with the damage the storm has done to all of our finances, I would have been better able to survive some of the ravishes and be in less debt. Now, all I do is struggle—like all my other women friends. Fortunately, like a lot of women, particularly single mothers, I am strong-willed and have managed to stay alive and continue moving forward. Both my children are college graduates; both graduated with honors; my son went on to get his Ph.D and my daughter chose to return to school for design. Of course, if I had that extra $10,662 a year I would not still be paying off her school loan for those first four years and I would have been able to help her get a better car. Being their mother’s children, they are strong-willed as well and are both successful young adults.
~~Valentine Pierce,Graphic Designer
two children, now adults
Valentine’s website: Poet Sense and Sensibilities, Valentine Pierce Designs – Graphics, Valentine Pierce Designs on Etsy
With an increase of over $10,000 in yearly income, I could easily improve my quality of life, especially in a city like New Orleans. That would give me the ability to upgrade to a better apartment without needing a roommate, and would also afford me the opportunity to obtain a more comprehensive health insurance plan. I’m okay most of the time, but I have little wiggle room in the event of an emergency. It’s difficult to feel comfortable day to day when you are aware of that. I also would be more comfortable increasing the amount of money I put into the creative projects I love doing, such as my pod cast.
~~Aura Shannon, Sales associate, Actress, Pod cast developer.
Aura’s Website: Backstage on the Bayou
Here is a list of bloggers participating in Equal Pay Day 2010.