On August 26, we celebrated Women’s Equality Day, which commemorates the ratification of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote.
“It is a time to celebrate women leaders who have gone before us, paving the way toward increased opportunity for women,” writes Wendy Musgrave, a member of the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women. “However, true equality is not achieved until it is made real for women in all sectors and industries, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, age, ability or socioeconomic status.”
One way we can continue the push for equality is through equal pay.
In 2009, the Iowa Legislature approved a Pay Equity Act, outlawing wage discrimination. It is illegal for an employer to pay some workers less than others for jobs requiring equal skill, effort and responsibility.
Nonetheless, wage inequality persists. In fact, the gap for Iowa is even higher than it is for the nation as a whole when it comes to equal pay between men and women. On average, a woman working full time in Iowa earns 79 cents for every dollar a man makes.
It’s even worse for women of color: African-American women in Iowa earn 59 cents for every dollar a white man makes; and Iowa’s Latina women make 58 cents for every dollar a white man makes.
Why should one person be awarded more purchasing power and a better standard of living for the same work? We all deserve to know our work is valued, to support our families and to get ahead.
Equal pay for equal work is simply the right thing to do. We must close loopholes that allow wage discrimination to continue. That includes allowing employees to discuss what they make with coworkers, without fear of retaliation from their employers; and narrowing the reasons an employer may pay workers different amounts.
2019 Equal Pay Days
Equal Pay Day is the date American women earn as much as men did the previous year. Here’s how much women earn per every dollar a man makes and how much longer it takes them to earn what a man does in one year: