Some women are being cheated out of more than a million dollars over their career spans, thanks to the 24 percent wage gap between men and women. The average American woman was paid 76 cents for every dollar made by a man, and over the course of her career, the average woman loses approximately $523,000 to the wage gap.
This could all change, however, depending on the outcome of a Senate vote on Nov. 17. An organization called Peacekeeper is staging a campaign to let you know what you can do to help it along, and calling that campaign "I Want My Million Bucks."
Peacekeeper is asking people to learn about the Paycheck Fairness Act, which was sponsored by then Senator Hillary Clinton and Rep. Rosa Delauro, to strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963. This bill was passed by the House Representatives on Jan. 9, 2009. It is now pending action in the Senate under Senator Christopher Dodd's sponsorship. A vote is due Nov. 17. According to Peacekeeper, The Paycheck Fairness Act would deter wage discrimination by closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and barring retaliation against workers who disclose their wages to coworkers.
Pay inequity hurts families
It's estimated that in one year, America's working families lost $200 billion of annual income to the wage gap, an average of $4,000 per family. According to a 1999 Business and Professional Women's Foundation/American Management Association study on compensation and benefits, women are less likely than men to receive additional compensation in forms other than salary (performance bonuses, stock options, profit sharing, etc). Additionally, numerous studies reveal that a college degree does not protect a woman from the wage gap. Women who graduate from college earn only 72 percent as much as men with the same education. As a result, women continue to say that pay is one of their biggest workplace concerns.
"What a lot of people don't realize is that when women are paid a fair wage, it benefits men as well, because the household salary is increased by about 25 percent" says Jody Weiss, activist, founder and CEO of PeaceKeeper Cause-Metics, which gives all of its after-tax, distributable profits to women's health advocacy and urgent human rights issues, and uses many organic ingredients from developing world famers to whom they give micro credit loans. "It doesn't make sense for women to be passive on the equal pay issue when it will benefit the entire family. They need to speak out," she says.
So what can you do to help the bill along? How can you speak out?
- Tell your Senators to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. Do it now: The National Women's Law Center has made this extremely easy for you, by providing a form for you to fill out that will be sent directly to your Senator. Find it by clicking here.
- Research your own paycheck: Find out how much others working in your field are earning and how much you should be earning. Evaluate the financial health of your employer. Then prepare a case and make an appointment to speak with your boss. See: How to Research Your Fair Wage for help.
Visit our salary center for more information on your own wage -- use our salary calculator to determine what your equal wage is.
- Wear Fairness Gloss, created by Peacekeeper to support the Pay Check Fairness Act. A portion of the profits from the sale of this gloss will be donated toward organizations dedicated to equal wage advocacy, and wearers are encouraged to ask with confidence for the wages they deserve.
Fairness Gloss is available today for $10. Buy yours today!
"Think of this as a journey to define and claim your own worth, and then ask your boss with sincerity for that wage," says Weiss. "Does he or she think you're worth a fair wage? If not, consider looking for a job in an environment that's not so exploitive." But in the meantime, encourage your senator to vote in favor of the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Next: Glass Ceiling Is Still Solid -- Especially if You Have an MBA