Here’s to you – Jane Workingwoman!
This week we profile every working woman in America. We’ll call her “Jane.”
Jane may be married or single, a mother or a daughter … she is definitely a sister. Jane works as a professional, a laborer, a nurse, teacher and at a big-box store. She works hard every day, balancing the needs of her job, her family and her community. Jane falls asleep at night – sometimes on the sofa while she watches a movie on Lifetime. She gets up early, brushes her teeth, throws on her clothes, packs lunches and gets her loved ones wherever they need to go before rushing off to her work. At the end of the day, she does everything in reverse: picking up, cooking, laundering, walking the dog, telling bedtime stories and balancing the checkbook before she pays the mountain of bills that never seem to earn that “Paid in Full” stamp. Jane sometimes cries. But, she never stays down for long because tomorrow is here and she must get up and do everything … all over again. Her family needs her and she will never let them down.
Jane is responsible and her boss depends on her just as her family does. She believes in her company and does everything in her power to increase the bottom line. Jane has held this job for a number of years and even got a promotion a couple of years ago. Jane feels pretty good about her place in the world. But, for Jane, there is good news and bad news …
The good news is that every Jane Workingwoman has made significant strides in the labor market since 1960 in terms of employment rates and median earnings. Jane is more educated than her mother’s generation; and, her daughter is likely to be better educated still, which should improve her earning potential even more.
The bad news is that the good news is all relative. This only compares Jane to every other working woman in every town, city or state. What the “good news” doesn’t compare is a level playing field for Jane and every working Joe. You see, Jane earns about 3/4 of what Joe earns even though they have the same or very similar jobs. This statistic become even more disparate when considering ethnicity, geography and age groups.
Enter Equal Pay Day …
Originated in 1996 by the National Committee on Pay Equity, Equal Pay Day was established to draw attention to and demonstrate the date of the year that Jane (you) must work in order to equal what Joe earned with his previous year’s wages. This year, Tuesday April 12th symbolizes how far into 2011 Jane must work to equal Joe’s 2010 wages. In other words, it takes Jane 483 days to earn what Joe earns in 365. It is disappointing that the wage gap persists despite 50 years of the Equal Pay Act. Additionally, the Paycheck Fairness Act, proposed in 2010 remains to be enacted.
The Women and Girls Foundation of Southwest Pennsylvania consistently raises awareness of the wage gap, including ways to remedy this for every Jane in every community. Progress is notable. When this organization began its quest, women made only 70-cents to each dollar made by a male. Today, this gap has narrowed to 75-cents to each dollar. The injustice of this gender wage gap is even wider for women of color. In Pittsburgh, Black or African American women earn only 64.2% of white male’s earnings, while Hispanic or Latina women earn only 65.6%. The disconcerting fact is that these women are far more likely to live their lives in poverty. Clearly, there is more work to do.
You – and every Jane – are invited to participate in local activities throughout the United States that will draw attention and spark solutions to end the wage gap. Visit www.wgfpa.org for information about these events in the southwestern PA region. Or, visit the national site www.pay-equity.org/day to find out what is happening in communities outside of southwestern PA.
Here’s to Jane! You are Jane Workingwoman. We and your community celebrate you and everything you do … every day.