Why the Pay Gap Between Men and Women Still Exists


In 1963, President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act (EPA), a law that abolished disparate pay for men and women. According to the National Women’s Law Center at the time, the disparity in pay stood at 41.1%. As of 2014, the wage gap was evaluated to be at 21.4% to the disadvantage of women. The disparity still exists because the antiquated law has several fatal loopholes.

Firstly, it provides an exception that allows employers to have a pay differential between men and women if they claim a “factor other than sex.” Some courts have interpreted these factors to include the supposedly stronger negotiating skills of men or a male worker’s previous salary. The EPA also does not protect women from employer retaliation for bringing up pay. This means that woman can still get fired for demanding equal pay, without legal protection. Currently, it’s estimated that American women who work full time are paid only 80 cents for every dollar in comparison to men—and for women of color, the wage gap is even wider. In a measured estimate, this gap can result in ,000 per year in lost earnings for women.

Since the passage of the EPA 54 years ago, there has been no legislation on the matter, which is why the National Women’s Law Center instated Equal Pay Day to call attention to the issue—this year it falls today, on April 4th. To buttress the law, the Center has proposed a new legal measure called the Paycheck Fairness Act, which aims to strengthen protection for all women, mandate enforcement on employers, and close the loopholes of the old system. To help advocate for the Act to be brought into action, tweet at your local congressman or woman, urging them to pass the law with the hashtag #twentpercentcounts.


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