President John F. Kennedy signed the "Equal Pay Act" the week I graduated from high school in June, 1963.
The concept sounded good, even though, like most girls of the era, I was encouraged to study home economics, not economics. I remember thinking that I'd make as much as my father did when I started my interior design career, which meant my own sports car soon.
When I worked at the local department stores, I didn't think we "salesgirls" were making what the salesmen were being paid; but I didn't count that as my "real" career where equal pay would kick in.
Over the years, my view of salaries was clearly skewed because our family business became entertainment, and concepts like "equal pay" or "hourly raises" rarely were heard when Aaron's shows and star salaries were being discussed.
I do remember all the unhappiness and headlines when a study was released that reported that women made 59 cents for the same hour's work that earned men $1.00. But, that was in the 1960s, and there were other topics to discuss and protest.
Last week, I heard a news report that, for the first time ever in our country's history -- and due in part to recent massive layoffs and cutbacks -- women will soon outnumber men in the full-time U.S. workforce. Equal numbers and equal pay?
And then I opened my USA Today Monday and looked to see what "Snapshot" would be the subject of the next day's morning DJs. It was "the gender pay gap."
"Among workers 25 or older who worked full time, year round in 2007, women made an average of 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.
"Median earnings for women: $35,759; for men: $46,788."
The earlier story about percentages of women catching up with men in the workplace reported that more than eighty percent of recent layoffs were men. Hmmmm.
None of it is right, and it doesn't require a TARP or bailout. A little fairness, even in the most difficult times, will help.
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