Since the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the gender pay gap has been improving at an extremely slow pace. Women in 1963 were paid approximately 60 cents on the dollar compared to men. In 2015 we have not advanced much. Women only earn 78 cents on the dollar like men. That means we’ve only grown 18 cents in 50 years! Economist Evelyn Murphy, chair of the federal wage bill, has estimated that over a lifetime of working (47 years), women have lost a total of the following in wages; High school graduates lost $700,000, college graduates lost $1.2 million, and trade school graduates lost $2 million.
The wage gap not only has an effect on women’s current financial situation and their ability to save for retirement, but also shows that lower wages translate into lower contributions to their social security benefits. This results in a decrease in social security benefits for women due to the fact that benefits are determined by the amount of lifetime contributions. In 2012, the average social security benefit for a 65-year-old woman was $12,520 a year, compared to $16,396 for a 65-year-old man. Coupled with the fact that women have less savings than men due to Due to the lower wage rates and longevity of women compared to men in general, we are seeing twice as many women over 65 living below the poverty line. If the wage gap were closed, in addition to women earning more, saving more and receiving more Social Security benefits, women would also be contributing much more to social security, which would be beneficial for everyone.
The gender pay gap is not just a national problem. We see this gender pay gap also internationally. CNN reports that the United States ranks 65th out of 142 countries in the world with respect to the gender pay gap. The leading countries were Burundi at 83 per cent, Singapore and Norway at 80 per cent. Italian women only earned 48 percent of the male salary, and Israel only 47 percent. The lowest percentages are observed in Syria, Pakistan and Jordan. This is clearly an international problem for women around the world. It is necessary to take action to change not only our nation, but also the entire world.
There are several steps we can take as women to help close this gap. Public awareness of this issue is essential. In addition, many experts agree that women need to learn how to better negotiate their salaries with potential employers. However, negotiation skills are tricky for women because sometimes self-promotion, which works for men, can backfire on them. Some tactics that have proven effective for women are knowing how much their skills are worth, exhibiting a positive attitude, and discussing common goals and what they personally would bring to the table. There are workshops that can help educate women on how to become successful negotiators. Another way we can improve the gap is to encourage our corporations to be fair to all employees. Companies can use audits to monitor and address gender pay gaps. Companies must know that paying fairly is the ethical and legal thing to do. It would also improve the productivity and general morale of your female employees. In addition to the 1963 equal pay act, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009, which offers more protection against unfair pay. This law allows women to file a lawsuit against the company for 180 days after the wage discrimination occurs. The AAUW website offers information and support to help women fight for their right to equal pay.
Most economists agree that we have not seen a significant improvement in the gender pay gap in the last 50 years. Closing the gender pay gap would help not just the women of our country, but our entire economy, as well as our social security program. We should all take steps to educate ourselves on this issue by reading the many government reports that are available online to raise our awareness. Women, as a whole, must be better able to negotiate our wages and hold employers accountable for discrimination. The media continues to discuss this issue, and economists continue to report and analyze this 78 percent national pay gap. We must continue as individuals to work to close this gap using some of the methods discussed, as well as finding new ways to help. Women deserve equal pay for equal work.