Nebraska: Equal Pay for Women Reduces Poverty
Women have made great strides in my lifetime. We have moved from a world where women were considered suitable as secretaries to one where women are suitable to be Secretaries of State. However, women are still earning only 77 cents on the male dollar in the workforce. Over the course of a lifetime, 77 cents for every dollar equates to more than one million dollars in reduced earnings.
In January of this year, I introduced LB 1085 In Nebraska to address the equal pay issue. I took this action in order to reduce the impact of wage discrimination on children living in poverty.
We live in a world where women are often the primary bread-winners in their homes. Most two-parent households are also two-income households, so wage discrimination impacts nearly every working person.
Equal compensation for women is crucial for the support of our children, too many of whom live in poverty. If the wage gap is finally closed, the poverty rate for all working women would be cut in half. The poverty rate for working single mothers would also fall by half--from 30% to 15% nationally.
Last summer I was contacted by a female constituent who works at a Fortune 500 company with an office in Omaha. This is a woman who comes from difficult circumstances, but is determined to make a better life for her children. She relayed to me how, after five years of hard work, she inadvertently discovered that a less experienced male counterpart was making a higher salary than she was earning without any better performance. Was she being undervalued? Was she being intentionally discriminated against? What is clear is that the employer creates a culture of secrecy that allows for pay disparities to be perpetuated.
Fighting pay-inequity with mandatory wage disclosure is a real solution to ongoing, pervasive, discriminatory pay practices. This policy, and others like it, would help women and families nationwide surge forward in the fight for equal pay for equal work.