Equal pay for equal work. Is that really too much to ask?
Today is Equal Pay Day, the day women’s earnings since Jan. 1, 2013, catch up with men’s earnings for 2013.
I fought this back in the early 1980s, when I discovered a man with the same experience I had, who was doing the same job I was, made 30 percent more than I did. He lived at home with his mom and I was raising two kids.
I went to the publisher to complain about the inequity, and he gave me a raise to equal what my male colleague was making. Then he called my male colleague into his office and gave him a raise, too. I wasn’t supposed to know about it, but I decided to be happy with my raise and not risk getting fired because I needed the job.
Once, when I interviewed for a job, I was told I wouldn’t be hired because I had children and this boss wanted to be my top priority. Again, I could have pressed it, but I didn’t want to work for someone like that.
When I was a child, a woman still could be fired for getting married or for having a baby. Women were passed over for promotions because they might get pregnant or because they had children, plus everyone knew they would be useless at least one or two days a month because of “female problems.”
Women could be bank tellers but not bank presidents; we could be nurses but not doctors; secretaries but not lawyers. If we chose to pursue a career, it was understood that we would sacrifice having children.
It took a lot of fighting to get past that crap, and we still haven’t achieved equality. We earn, on average, 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren calls that not an accident, but discrimination, and she’s right.
I have a bumper sticker on my car that says, “I can’t believe I’m still protesting this crap!” People often snap pictures of it in parking lots.
But I have been protesting for women’s equality since the 1960s. As early as 1958, I was thinking I was as smart as any of the boys in my class — and smarter than most of them, but I was being told my possibilities were limited. I find it appalling that it’s still true on so many levels.
My granddaughters are coming of age in a time when women are still paid only about three-quarters of what men make; I can only hope my great-granddaughter’s reality is a little better.