All the work of feminists four decades ago still hasn’t brought women’s pay up top the average salary level men enjoy, and Charlotte Nelson, head of Iowa’s Commission on the Status of women, says today is “Equal Pay Day” to recognize that fact. The National Committee on Pay Equity set this tax day aside for the observance to symbolize how long women have to work to earn a week’s pay for a man — she had to work all last week and up through today — Tuesday — to earn what he made last week. The federal Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, and Nelson points out there have been four decades in which women’s earnings COULD have caught up to men’s pay. At that time women were paid 59-cents on the dollar earned by a man, and it’s up to 76-cents, though some of the closing gap is due to cuts in men’s pay. While some women do choose to take time off from the working world with their children, Nelson says it’s unfair to blame women for choosing low-paying jobs. To say occupational choice is the reason women earn less “begs the question” because jobs that are predominantly female are undervalued. Nelson says while Iowa women earn less than men working at comparable jobs, the state’s above average for equity in that area. Iowa’s 19th in the nation in terms of women’s pay in relation to men, but we’re 33rd in earnings, largely because Iowa’s a low-wage state The report, called “The Status of Women in Iowa,” was done for the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.
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