On June 10, 1963, the U.S. government passed an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act making it illegal to pay women less than men for the same work.
That was 50 years ago, and women are still paid less than men at all education levels, in almost every field. On average, women make 77 cents to every dollar a man makes per hour, translating to about $11,084 per year less than a man.
These are statistics that many of us know like the back of our hand. Since the implementation of this amendment, we have progressed 18 cents towards closing the wage gap, however that progress ended a decade ago. In the past ten years, women have earned a static 23 cents less than men per hour. These numbers continue to shock us as a very real and tangible example of why we need feminism.
However, what a lot of people are not familiar with is the way in which wages are segregated along race lines as much as gender. According to this report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Latinas are paid the least of any demographic, earning an average of $521 a week. That’s 54 cents for every dollar the average white man makes, and in California the numbers get worse, with Latinas earning 43.2 cents for every white man’s dollar. That’s thousands of dollars a year.
In addition to earning less than their male counterparts, Latinas are mostly found in our country’s lowest paying jobs, often in the informal sector where they are more likely to be exploited. If they are undocumented, these women can easily lose their jobs as a result of the Obama administration’s silent ICE raids.
Now, imagine trying to feed your kids with two minimum wage jobs, yet knowing that every day that by going to work, you risk being torn away from your family?
This is why Equal Rights Advocates (ERA) threw a luncheon last week, honoring those women struggling with unfair pay, celebrating the progress we have made in the past 50 years, and laying out the work still to be done. At the luncheon some incredible presenters spoke to their experience struggling for equal pay. Among them was Saru Jaramayan of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, an organization that fights for fair pay and better working conditions for restaurant workers in the United States. Read More