The Pilot Editorial

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Today is Tuesday

Yes, it is Tuesday, and if you are a working woman, it's your day, though not necessarily one for celebration. On the average, by the end of today, the average woman in Iowa will have caught up to what a male in the same job earned last week. In other words, according to the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women, a woman still must work an average of seven days to equal what men get paid for five days.

Progress isn't going so well. In 1963, when the Federal Equal Pay Act was passed, women were paid 59 cents to the dollar men earned. Forty years later, it's 76 cents. At the current rate, the gap wouldn't be eliminated until 2039.

Why? Goodness help us, is it really a fear of those six weeks that a woman may take off if she goes and has a baby? Is it fear that she may be more likely to leave a job as a husband's career dictates? Or is it the remnants of old gender stereotypes we would like to think has been put to bed two generations ago?

"When parking lot attendants are paid more than child care workers, it is obvious the work performed predominantly by women is undervalued," according to the Commission an Director Charlotte Nelson.

African-American women make on average only 69 cents on the dollar compared to white males of similar skills, and Latinas make only 56.

It's been thoroughly proven, and we hope, accepted, that there is no gender gap in job performance in any career. A female local native is playing pro football these days...

It is great that we have neared complete equity of career choices. Our daughters don't need to know the feeling of having to limit their options to the handful of traditionally female jobs - teaching, nursing, clerical, fashion... and those jobs are just as appropriate to the men who choose them.

Equity in work was a long, long time coming, and it should have taught our society lessons along the way. We shouldn't have to wait another 36 years to become fair in pay level as well.

Shouldn't pay be based on each worker's merit, not on a particular chromosome?

Today is Tuesday, as good a day as any to begin working against inequity in each of workplaces.