2016-04-20 / Opinion

The Need to Address Pay Disparity


Many of you likely heard that Tuesday, April 12, marked Equal Pay Day, the symbolic day in 2016 to which women must work to earn what men earned in 2015. In Maine, the average woman makes 78.9 percent of what a man earns, but this statistic is only really accurate for white women. For Black, Latina and Native women, the gap is significantly greater. Additionally, for transgender women, immigrant women, mothers and women with disabilities, the gap is greater.

Over her working years (about 40) a woman working full time can lose anywhere from $400,000 to over one million dollars due to the pay gap, which exists across education levels and in nearly 98 percent of occupations. In Maine, the annual loss of income is around $9,647. This represents rent or mortgage payments, groceries, clothing and other necessities for women and their families.

There are many factors that contribute to the pay gap — gender discrimination, taking time from the workplace to have children or care for yourself or family, decreased earning potential due to interrupted employment for those who take time to have a family.

Adopting policy solutions that address these problems is the only way we will close the pay gap once and for all. There is no silver bullet — rather, we need workplace policies that meet 21st century needs, an end to gender discrimination and a culture where workers and their families are treated with the dignity and equality they deserve from their employers.

Molly Bogart and

Sophie Whitehouse,


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