Equal pay for equal work

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By Dr. Jami Brown – RCC Department of Sociology

By Dr. Jami Brown – RCC Department of Sociology

On Nov. 9 Awaken Ophelia sponsored a “Wage-Scale Bake Sale” to raise funds for their club treasury and to bring awareness to an old problem. Even though equal pay is the law since 1963, a gender gap in wages persists. In the United States, on average, women are paid 77 percent of what men receive for the same work. The price of baked goods was set to reflect the wage discrepancy: women were charged 75 cents, while men were charged $1.

Members of Awaken Ophelia provided handouts with wage gap information to students. In addition, an informal poll was taken. Students were asked whether or not they were aware of the gender based pay gap. Awaken Ophelia member Erica Hecker hypothesized that men were more aware of the wage gap than women. Results of the poll: more men than women said they were aware of the wage gap. Other members of Awaken Ophelia were not surprised by the results of the poll. “If more women knew about this maybe it could change,” said Rachel Silver.

Equal pay is not just a woman’s issue. Equal pay is a family issue. Dual-earner families are today’s norm. In 2000, both parents were employed in 64 percent of married couples with children. A growing number of single women are responsible for providing financially for their families. If married women were paid the same as comparable men, their family incomes would rise by nearly 6 percent. If single working mothers earned as much as comparable men, their families’ incomes would increase by nearly 17 percent.

Conversations at the bake sale revealed that most students purchasing baked goods believed in equal pay for equal work. Still, many students at RCC are seemingly unaware that, generally, women are paid less than men.

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