Patricia Arquette: Women must fight pay inequality at work

Source: USA Today


Gender pay inequality is not just the difference in pay: most women simply are unaware of or don’t understand the issue, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said Tuesday while releasing a new report on pay gaps.

Maloney, D-N.Y., and Academy Award-winning actress Patricia Arquette discussed the findings of the Congressional report at the National Press Club on Equal Pay Day. The date symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men were paid in the previous year.

“Many of our leaders do not care that there is historic discrimination. They don’t seem to care that women will be paid less in their lifetime and less in retirement,” Arquette said.

The actress, who is also an equal pay advocate, brought up the issue in her Oscars speech in February. She also started a petition that month asking U.S. lawmakers to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, first introduced in 1923, that reads “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” A constitutional amendment would be permanent and go farther than current federal laws against pay discrimination, such as the Equal Pay Act of 1963.

“Women belong in our founding documents. Women have waited 229 years to be recognized and protected as full citizens in our own nation, and we are not waiting any longer,” Arquette said. She asked American women to fight against pay inequality at work.

According to the new report, American women earn 21.4 cents less on average for every dollar earned by men. The report provides a state-by-state breakdown of wage differences between men and women, with Louisiana at the bottom of the list, where a woman earns 34.7 cents less per dollar than her male counterpart. District of Columbia and New York were ranked at the top, where for every dollar a man earns, a woman is paid 89.6 cents and 86.8 cents, respectively.

“Gender pay gap leads to long-term economic disparity. A typical woman working full-time year-round earns $10,800 less per year than a man and that’s devastating,” Maloney said.

At the current pace, the gender pay gap will not close until 2059, she said. Maloney urged people to cast their vote in the November’s elections with the issue in mind.

The report also includes data showing women of color face larger pay gaps and that pay disparity increases with age. It also links pay inequality to poverty and child hunger in America, claiming that half of America’s poor wouldn’t be living under poverty if the gap closed.

“This is not just an entertainment business problem. This is an American problem,” Arquette said.