The road to justice is rarely short and never easy.
Suffrage: Women’s Long Battle for the Vote, by Ellen Carol DuBois, was published last year. The book tells the story of the first leg of the American feminist movement in the mid to late 19th century and early 20th century. It starts around the time of the Civil War. Though women in the United States are legally disenfranchised, they are vocal members of the Abolitionist Movement. When black men get the vote and women are still barred from the ballet box, the fire is lit. Led by foremothers such as Lucretia Mott and Sojourner Truth, the reader is taken through the difficult journey that led to the 19th Amendment.
I loved this book. It was one of those history books that has an appeal beyond the expected academic and feminist audience. It was readable and accessible without resorting to a list of dry facts. I also appreciated the spotlight on the African-American women who were just as important to the movement, but were ignored by their white peers.
I recommend it.
P.S. Today is Equal Pay Day, a timely reminder that the battle for real equality is far from over.
Some people (both men and women) believe that feminism, as a movement, is no longer needed. Women are no longer second class citizens. We can vote, own or rent our homes without needing a male cosigner, work in the career of our choice, climb up the educational ladder, etc.
While the argument is partially true, women are still not truly equal. Today is equal pay day.
Today is called equal pay day because a white woman has to work a year and four months for the same annual salary that her white male colleague earns. Men and women of color have equal pay days of their own towards the end of the year, representing how long they have to work for the same salary as their white male colleagues. In a fair world, an employee’s salary should be decided on based on their experience and ability to do their job. The color of their skin and their classification as either male or female should not play a role in deciding what to pay an employee. But we don’t live in fair world, we live in an unfair world.
That is why equal pay day exists and will continue to exist until the issue of pay parity is a thing of the past.
Today is Equal Pay Day. In an ideal world, this day would not be necessary. An employee would be paid based on his or her abilities and experience, not based on their race, gender, family background, etc. Unfortunately, we live in a less than ideal world.
For every dollar that a Caucasian male makes, a Caucasian woman earns 83 cents. For the same dollar, an African-American woman earns 66 cents and a woman of Hispanic descent earns 60 cents. I’m not an economist by any stretch of the imagination, but if this gap was done away with, our country would be better off. Think of the earning power of women and the things we buy. Seventeen cents, thirty-four cents and forty cents may not seem like a lot of money, but over the lifetime of a career, that adds up.
Our President talks about equal pay and equal treatment for women in the workplace. Equal treatment in the workplace start with equal pay. But as usual, President Trump talks a good game and means not one word of what he is saying. In revoking the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces put into place by President Obama, he is clearly stating women in the work place are lower than their male colleagues simply because they were born female. So much for using his daughter Ivanka as a mouth piece for women.
Instead of ranting on how completely unfair it is that some of us are still earning less than our colleagues, based only upon race, sex or familial origins instead of professional experience and/or educational background, I would like appeal to the rational nature of my fellow citizens.
Logic states that an employees’ salary is dictated by their previous experience and their ability to do the job. But human beings are not always logical creatures.
Imagine a world and a country where sex, race, family origin and sexual orientation go completely unnoticed. Imagine a world where one’s salary is strictly based on the employees’ abilities to do their job.
There is so much money sitting wasted on the proverbial table. I’m not an economist by any stretch of the imagination, but if we all had a little more disposable income, perhaps there would be more jobs and a little less debt.
In 4 years, we will be celebrating the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment. The 19th Amendment was the beginning of fight of American women for their rights as human beings. Sadly, one of those fights is still equal pay.
I would like to start this post with what I think seems to be a reasonable question.
Consider, two employees who work for the same company doing the same job. Their educational and professional history is comparable to their colleague. They are equally respected for their dedication, hard work and their ability to do complete the responsibilities of the position. Logically, one might think that these two employees should be receiving similar paychecks. But the world and the work place is not always so logical.
I would like to add some additional information to that first paragraph. One of these employees is male, the other is female. The rest of the variables will remain as is. The female colleague will earn .78 for every 1.00 that the male earns.
That .22 may not seem like a lot of money. But over time, that gap grows ever larger.
Previous generations of women have been taught to be meek and subservient. Thankfully, that is changing. But change is not always easy. Many women still feel uncomfortable when it comes to speaking up and negotiating their salaries.
As women, we have come very far in only a few generations. Cracks are starting to appear in the glass ceiling. But the glass ceiling still exists and we must continue fight for what we want and need.
I hope that one day, Equal Pay Day will not be needed. But until then, we will celebrate our accomplishments and fight for what we believe in.