Equal Pay Day: From 59 Cents to 77 Cents. Is That Progress?

Equal Pay Day is here. But are your wages equal to men?

When I was first starting out as a young journalist, I believed there was no question that I would get paid the same salary as men doing the same job.  After all, we'd come a long way, right? Women were not just "weather girls" anymore; we were becoming investigative journalists and sports anchors and producers. I thought my NOW button that proclaimed "59 cents" was a quaint relic of the past.

I learned the hard way that I wasn't getting paid anywhere near what those newsroom guys were making. Hey, I was single and some of those men had families to support, said the news directors who thought they were justified in paying lower wages to us "girls."

That was *cough* a few years ago, but I figured by the time my daughter was in the picture, we'd be close to pay equity. Sadly, we're not. The average wages of women are only at 77 or 78 cents to every dollar earned by a man. So it looks like we still need Equal Pay Day to talk about how women's work is valued in our country.

It's timely to be talking about that this week, as we come off the whole faux mommy wars extravaganza brought on by comments made by Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen about whether Ann Romney has ever "worked a day in her life." We wouldn't have time to have those pretend debates about stay-at-home moms vs. working-outside-the-home moms if we focused more on how we value women's work of all kinds. 

Sure, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Act into law, but that only gives workers (men and women) an extended right to sue for back wages if they learn they've been discriminated against. The Paycheck Fairness Act, which would update the equal pay laws on the books, languishes in Congress and there are no signs that anyone is going to bat for that before the presidential election this fall.

So this year, as we commemorate annual Equal Pay Day today, what do you think should be done when it comes to how women are paid and how women's work is, or isn't, valued in our country?

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