Today is a milestone day for women — but you won’t find any women popping open a bottle of champagne to celebrate. Charlotte Nelson, the executive director of the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women, says today is Equal Pay Day, when a woman who’s worked long enough to earn as much as a man earned last year. Nelson says on average, a woman will work 16 months to make as much money as a man has made in 12 months.
Nelson says there has been some improvement in the male/female pay disparity. She says when the Equal Pay Act was enacted in 1963, women earned 59 cents for every dollar a man earned. Nelson says women now earn an average of 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. Nelson says the pay equality is a little less than average in Iowa. Nelson says the latest figures from Iowa show that women earn just about 74 cents from every dollar earned by a man.
Nelson says there are several ideas about why there’s still a pay discrepancy. She says some people say it’s just the jobs women chose. Nelson admits the predominately female jobs do pay less than predominately male jobs, but she says many of those are caretaking jobs for the most vulnerable in society, and Nelson says the pay should be higher.
Nelson says the woman’s role as a caretaker makes some impact on wages. Nelson says women do take more time out of the workforce to care for children or dependent adults. But Nelson says even when those caretaking duties are taken out of the equation, there’s still a gap that can only be explained by discrimination. Nelson says education is one remedy, and she says they encourage women to go into some of the male-dominated jobs that pay more money.