In 1964, Congress passed Title VII of the Civil Rights Act banning workplace discrimination based on, among other things, race and gender. Gender discrimination then, as evidenced through the wage gap, ran rampant. When Title VII was passed, women working full-time made approximately 59 cents to every dollar earned by their full-time working male counterparts. While progress has certainly been made, wage inequality between women and men persists. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, On Diversity, America Isn’t Putting Its Money Where Its Mouth Is
reveals the current wage gap:
Women, overall, are substantially lagging behind men in pay. Full-time female employees earned 77% of all men’s median wages. Breaking it down in terms of race, Asian-American women earned 78% of the median annual pay of white men; white women earned 73%; black women, 63%; and Hispanic women, 52%.
What can be done to put an end to the wage gap? Dr. Evelyn Murphy, President of The Wage Project, Inc., considered this very question in her book, Getting Even: Why Women Don’t Get Paid Like Men and What To Do About It.
As Dr. Murphy points out, seeking justice from the legal system is only part of the answer. Getting Even discusses the “pressure triangle,” which involves exerting pressure to end gender discrimination from the bottom up, from the top down, and from the outside in. The bottom up requires employees to document gender discrimination to their bosses and management. The top down requires those in control to respond to wage disparities and make a concerted effort to close the wage gap within their establishment. The outside in requires that we as a society make it socially unacceptable for employers to engage in discriminatory pay practices.
The wage gap will continue to exist if we continue to ignore it.