Like most days, yesterday I was disappointed with Congress. Senate Republicans blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would discourage wage discrimination based on gender by allowing women to seek out information about what their fellow male co-workers are earning.
When I first read about this bill, I was hesitant to decide whether I would support it. I am a woman, so having equal pay is something I deem quite important and could directly affect me in the future. However, I had to think about it. I wasn't completely comfortable with the bill allowing co-workers to see each other's wages. It just seems too personal. As I continued reading though, I began to get angry. Women on average only make 77 cents to the dollar as men. Are American wages really that out of touch? It is no longer 1950, with the majority of women married and staying at home raising children. Many families, in fact a third of American children are raised in single-mother households where the sole income is the mother. These households are the most at risk for entering poverty, and apparently Congress is only helping to heighten that statistic.
It honestly shocks me that it is 2012 and this bill did not pass. In today's economy it is if not a requirement, a strong suggestion that everyone (including women) receive a college degree. In order to compete in today's job markets, we must get an education regardless of gender. Both men and women are acquiring large sums of student debt in order to receive an education and find a job where they can earn a decent wage to support themselves. How is it that men and women are receiving the same education, making the same financial sacrifices and yet are not earning the same wage when entering the workforce? I would be devastated to know that I worked hard for a good education and to be trained in my field, only to learn that my coworker was better able to support himself and pay his bills simply because he is a man.
After the birth control debate and the pregnancy legislation in Arizona, this to me seems like yet another attack on women in our country. Without the passing of this legislation, Congress is saying that the work of a woman is not equal to the work of a man, essentially a woman is not equal to a man. I feel Congress is saying that my wage in my chosen field will not be determined by my skill set but, in some percentage, by my sex. I understand the hesitation in passing legislation like this, but if women were being paid equally this legislation would not be required; therefore, it is necessary. America is based on the concept of equality; it seems like equal pay for equal work would be a given. Right now I am a student, a female student, who is working hard so that I may make a salary and live independently. I would hope that something as irrelevant as my reproductive organs would not inhibit me from reaching my full earning potential.