Not a Blame Game: Women Demand Equal Pay and Equity

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Monday was April Fool’s Day, but an observance today is no joke to working women in Ohio and across the U.S. 

April 2 marks Equal Pay Day, the date on the calendar representing how far into 2019 a woman has to work to earn the equivalent of a man’s wages in 2018. According to the Economic Policy Institute, women were paid almost 23 percent less than men in 2018, when accounting for race and ethnicity, education, age and location. 

Kelley Griesmer, president and CEO of the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, argued it will take squashing decades of implicit bias in society to close the gap.

“This isn’t a blame game. It’s not about men setting out to really cause women some sort of pain, but it is all of this bias that has existed for years and years and years,” Griesmer said. “And there has to be an equity lens. The only way you get to true equality is through equity.”

Griesmer explained that even if women started earning equal pay today, it would not cancel out the significant wealth gap that’s resulted from pay inequity over time. She believes a discussion is needed on how women can build wealth throughout their lives and become economically secure.

Carolyn Casper, president of the Ohio Chapter of the National Organization for Women, noted racial disparities within the gender pay gap also need to be addressed. While women on average earn about 77 cents for every dollar a man earns, for black and Hispanic women it’s about 66 cents. And, Casper added, there are widespread implications.

“This is not a women’s issue; this is a human rights issue,” Casper said. “This penalizes our families, it penalizes our community and it’s not an equitable way to treat workers. Our contributions over history have been very significant and they’ve yet to be recognized. “

Casper is hopeful that policies such as the Paycheck Fairness Act will make a difference. The legislation, passed last week by the U.S. House, would ban employers from asking job applicants how much they previously made, forbid businesses from retaliating against workers who share wage information, and increase penalties for equal-pay violations.

This story was produced in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.

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