Equality still hasn't reached the workplace

Yesterday, I spoke with Linda Winston, the president of the New York State Business and Professional Womenís Organization, and the information she gave me was quite astounding. Eighty-eight years after the 19th amendment was passed, women are still fighting for pay equal to that of their male counterparts.

It seems archaic and outdated to think that women and men of equal intelligence are receiving varying amounts of pay for performing the same work, but according to statistics released by the Institute for Womenís Policy Research, that is exactly what is happening. Their studies show that nationwide, women make only 77 percent of a manís annual income. People try to ignore these figures by saying there must be a difference in educational levels or performance, but the facts show that every state across the country had an increase in womenís educational attainment between 2000 and 2005.

Perhaps there is a difference on a nation-wide level, between the educational levels attained by women and their male counterparts, but if there is, the issue needs to be addressed. There is no reason in this day and age that women should be less educated than men, or settle for lesser degrees of success.

There are factors acting against women in the work force. Women take maternity leave for the birth of children. They tend to be the primary care givers, staying home with young children, and on average they are more passive than the males with whom they compete, and therefore are less likely to go into highly competitive occupations and more likely to take lower-paying jobs.

All of these factors make it easier to pay women a lesser wage and feel justified, but arguments can be made to rebut any or all of these factors. Women tend to care for young children because they are in jobs that pay less, therefore it makes more sense for the woman to stay home than the man. In addition, even in many individual professions, women are still paid a lower amount than men for an equivalent position, so the argument that the quality of job determines the difference is not accurate.

Although no specific information about Chenango County could be obtained, New York state was ranked 13th in pay equity. If things go unchanged, a national pay equity study estimates that equal pay will not be achieved in New York State until sometime after 2050. The figures for women of minorities are even more bleak.

Women across the country need to take a stand. What happened to the days of women marching in the streets to get what they wanted? Suffragists achieved the right to vote in 1919 by taking an active stance on the issue. The same thing needs to be done now. Women need to demand equal pay for equal work and stop acquiescing to the demands of a male dominated society.

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