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Equal pay, equal work: It's past time to act

By Jamia Collins, Editor-in-Chief
On March 1, 2018

NEW ORLEANS (March 4, 2018) – The United States of America, this so-called bastion of Western civilization, has come a long way with women, surely. Men in America don’t feel they are allowed to rape women on public bus rides, as is still the case in India. Women here are not required to cover their bodies from head to foot, as in some Muslim countries. And women here have even had the vote since 1920!

So why, then, is equal pay for equal work still an issue in America in the 21st century?

(We won’t get into the country going backward regarding a woman’s control over her own body; we’ll save that indignity for another essay, although having a vagina seems to be the sticking point in both matters.)

Right now, celebrity women like Mo’Nique, Tracee Ellis Ross, Michelle Williams are clamoring for equal pay to their male counterparts. They have spoken out against the gender pay-gap that benefits men over the women performing the same duties. And while all gender pay gaps are serious issues, our focus is not about how many millions celebrity females may be losing; instead, their outcry brings to light the suffering rank-and-file American female for whom this gap is even more troubling because it makes much more of a difference.

The gender gap in pay has been reduced since 1980, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center, but it still persists. Women had to work an extra 44 days in 2015 to earn what men did. The Census Bureau reported women who work fulltime, year-round earned 80 percent of the pay of their male counterparts.

It shouldn’t surprise us, then, that females even get the shaft in a part-time “gig” economy: Fortune reported a multi-year study by economics showed female Uber drivers make 7 percent less per hour than their male counterparts.

And when we look at Louisiana statistics, things are even worse. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,  Louisiana was ranked in 2016 as having the 45th-worst gender pay gap in the nation. (The 2017 statistics have yet to be released.)

Louisiana women who were full-time wage and salary workers had median usual weekly earnings of $659 – or 76.4 percent – of the $863 median weekly pay for males, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

What’s up, Louisiana? What’s up, America?

Women have been doing and are capable of completing the same jobs as any man from being a doctor, lawyer, contractor, WWE wrestler and any other position out there.

Throughout history, we have seen women relegated to being seen as a housewife, meal-cooker and baby maker. But it’s past time that women are punished for being a wife or a mother or simply a female in the U.S. workforce.

Some rationales for women making less are that women are more likely than a man to reduce their hours, take time off, turn down a promotion and quit their job because of children and families. Mothers at many companies are not granted paid maternity leave, and they are rushed to come back to work or face be replaced.

But society also judges women in the workforce who do spend more time at work than at home or women who do not get married.

Louisiana Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, noted in a Baton Rouge Business Report article noting “unconscious biases” from hiring managers “who naturally tend to hire people who are like themselves. The practice, along with certain workplace cultures, can make it harder for women and minorities to succeed.”

The wage gap is a serious issue in the United States, and people try to ignore or push it to the side, but this is not acceptable. Louisiana should not be so behind on the wage gap and has consistently been low.

When is progress in this arena going to appear, Louisiana? When, America?

There should be paid leave for women who decide to be mothers. Women should not have to choose between their families and a promotion. Women should not be judged on their gender but on their work ethic, on their abilities to do the job and do the job well. And women’s pay should reflect the job performed and not their gender.

When are women going to stop being punished for being women?

We, the Courtbouillon staff, call for equal treatment in the workforce for women. Gender bias should not be allowed in the workforce as a person should be judged on their resume and their quality of work – not their gender. Women can and do the same job as any man, and they deserve the same pay a man performing the same job.

(Editor-in-Chief Jamia Collins wrote this editorial on behalf of the Courtbouillon staff.)

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