By Julie Nguyen, 9to5 Atlanta member
As a working woman, I don’t consider myself less valuable than my male co-workers. But apparently many employers do — pay discrimination is a real problem that shortchanges American women and their families.
Women earn less than men in every state and region of the country. On average women earned 77 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2011, which translates to a loss of almost $11,000 in annual earnings. For women of color, the gap is even wider.
Equal pay is important to me because I want to be able to take care of myself. I watched my parents struggle financially while I was growing up and it left an indelible mark on me. I vowed at a young age to become a self-sufficient adult. Despite always having been fiscally responsible, I recently acquired a large debt when I suddenly became ill and had to be hospitalized. If the wage gap closed, I could pay off my medical bill. To me, pay equity is a way of helping women and their families become less vulnerable to poverty and bankruptcy due to costly, unexpected events.
This year’s Equal Pay Day is on Tuesday April 9, when women and men protest the wage gap. When women are paid less than men, it hurts their families and the economy. And since women make three-quarters of family purchasing decisions, it means less money is spent in our local economies. To help make families financially secure and the economy thrive, we must pass the Paycheck Fairness Act — and I can’t think of a better time than now on Equal Pay Day.