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Equal Pay Day: Ohio Women Aren't Worth Less

PHOTO: April 14 is Equal Pay Day, which marks how far into the new year a woman must work to match the amount of money a man earned the prior year. On average, women earn 78 cents for every $1.00 a man earns. Photo credit: Rupert Ganzer/Flickr.
PHOTO: April 14 is Equal Pay Day, which marks how far into the new year a woman must work to match the amount of money a man earned the prior year. On average, women earn 78 cents for every $1.00 a man earns. Photo credit: Rupert Ganzer/Flickr.
April 14, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Women continue to be paid less than men in Ohio and other states, and Equal Pay Day aims to call attention to this persistent inequity, in part by utilizing today's date: April 14.

The date represents how far into the new year a woman needs to work in order to match the amount of money a male counterpart made in the previous year.

Beth Lonn, chief grants and operating officer with the Women's Fund of Central Ohio, says females in the U.S. earn just 78 percent of what males are paid. She adds that most people don't realize it, nor intend to perpetuate the gap.

"There's a lot of surprise when we talk about it, and I don't think there's necessarily the intention from male employers they're trying to pay women less," says Lonn. "So it's raising the consciousness and asking people to be mindful about how they are making determinations on wages."

Wage experts say the pay gap occurs in every occupation, at every education level, and includes women with or without children. Lonn adds that women of color earn even less.

"African American females are earning more like 65 percent, and Latino women are actually earning more like 55 percent," says Lonn. "So while the overall rate is poor, when we break it down into minority status it gets even worse."

Lonn says the wage gap can be traced to the beginning of a career, because female applicants tend not to negotiate pay like their male counterparts.

"They get a job offer and their response is to negotiate for a higher rate," she says. "A woman is more likely to say 'Thank you,' and accept the position. So immediately she's starting off at a lower rate, and then when raises are done on a percentage basis she gets further and further behind."

When the Equal Pay Act of 1963 was signed into law, women were making only 59 cents for every $1.00 a man made. While the ratio is improving, the pay gap is not expected to close until 2058, nearly 100 years after the Equal Pay Act was signed.

Last month, the Paycheck Fairness Act was introduced in both houses of Congress. It would help close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and help narrow the gap.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH