Unequal Pay Hurts American Families

Equal pay for equal work sounds like common sense but for too many women across this country, the gender pay gap continues to be a problem. We are telling our girls that they are just as good as the boys, yet we still pay men better than women.

Paying women less than men hurts American families and reduces their ability to afford necessities such as food and shelter. Sadly, in this economy, it takes two incomes to make ends meet and families across this country still struggle at the end of the day. It is even worse for single parents trying to raise their family on a single income. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, mothers are the sole breadwinners in approximately 35.57% of households in the United States.

Even educated women are at risk for unequal pay in the workplace. If a man and woman who are equally qualified get the same job, the woman still only earns 92 cents for every dollar the man is paid. Often, it seems that you must be three times as qualified as a male co-worker for the same position. Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce reports that a woman must have an additional academic degree to achieve equal pay with men. Over a lifetime, unequal pay can add up to a over a million dollars and that money could be better spent securing a family’s financial future instead.

Compounding this problem is the fact that most low-wage high-growth jobs such as home health aides, personal care aides, and food preparation workers are held by women. Not all individuals are benefitting from the current economy and wages continue to be stagnant for women. Furthermore, the American Association of University Women has determined that for every $1 men make, women make 80 cents in the United States and we rank 42nd in the nation in gender pay equity. This inequity is harming our families and placing women at a distinct disadvantage in their efforts to provide for their families.

We should not have to tell our daughters that this country does not value women and that they should expect to earn less than their male colleagues. They deserve to be treated the same as the boys and paid the same for equal work. It’s time that America steps up and starts to put words into actions with equal pay.

Written by Mary Kuehler, Idaho Democratic Women