We love our members! MomsRising member Clara Paynter Speaks Out for Fair Pay on Capitol Hill
These remarks were delivered by MomsRising member Clara Paynter at this morning's press conference for fair pay on Capitol Hill. Clara shared the stage with Leader Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, Congresswoman Rosa Delauro, and Congressman Joaquin Castro. We are so proud of you, Clara!
Good morning, my name is Clara Paynter. I’m a member of the group MomsRising and a mother of two wonderful kids: Katelyn and Cassady. My daughter Katelyn is four and my son Cassady is one.
I’m here today because I’m deeply concerned about the gender wage gap in our country. At the rate we’re going, my daughter will be 49 before we’ve closed that gap. We started this work in 1963, so that’s a very long time.
I don’t want my daughter to spend the majority of her working life getting paid less than her male colleagues. And it won’t be fair if my son outpaces his big sister when it comes to earnings. They should have the same kinds of opportunities and be treated fairly. That’s what I’m raising them to believe and that’s really how the world should be.
While I don’t think I’ve experienced wage discrimination, I have to say that I don’t really know, because without the Paycheck Fairness Act, that type of information isn't easily available. The statistics make me wonder: have I and my female friends been paid less than equally qualified male colleagues just because we are women? When will this happen to me in the future? The odds are against me. Right now, they’re against all women.
When I was preparing to come here, I reached out to some friends to find out whether they had experienced wage discrimination. I was amazed by the quick responses. My friends knew that gender had impacted their earnings and treatment in the workplace and wanted to talk about it. Some of the stories were shocking. I’d like to share one with you.
A friend of mine has a mother who works for a major transit system. After working 15 years for her employer, she discovered that a new male hire was getting paid $20,000 more than she was. She filed a complaint against the division with the office of Civil Rights. Their response - give her a $10,000 raise, only half of the pay discrepancy. To add insult to injury, in addition to her 15 years seniority she has a master’s degree. Her brand new male colleague has a bachelor’s. She should be making significantly more, not $10,000 less than he is.
MomsRising has compiled an entire book of similar stories which we’re delivering to Members of Congress today.
I’m a family therapist. My husband is in business. Most of my co-workers are women and most of my husband’s colleagues are men. Women take a wage hit here too. My husband and I both have master’s degrees, but his earning potential is five times that of mine. So, we prioritize his career and I have worked part-time after having kids – using all of my salary to cover child care. It’s frustrating for me, but it’s an issue of survival for women who are sole or primary breadwinners. And we now know that in 40 percent of households, that’s exactly what moms are.
As a family therapist, I’ve seen the stress of trying to make ends meet. It affects moms and it affects their children. When a mom gets paid less than her male colleagues for the same job, she’s struggling to pay the bills and she has to make heart wrenching sacrifices that will impact her children. Does she need to take on a second or third job, taking away time that is needed to supervise, nurture, and support her children? Will she need to rent an apartment in a neighborhood filled with drugs, violence and gangs? Can she give her young children proper nutrition and quality childcare at a time when their brains and bodies and rapidly developing, and the care that they receive now will greatly impact their abilities in the future?
The Paycheck Fairness Act won’t fix all of these problems, but it would go a long way in helping to rectify many of them. And get us on the road to addressing others. And it would help to realize the potential of the Equal Pay Act that John Kennedy signed into law a half-century ago. Thank you.
This isn’t just an issue that affects women. It is an issue that affects every person that has a mother, a daughter, a sister or friend in their life that they care deeply about.