Same job, same pay

Observing Equal Pay Day


Same job, same pay
by Elahe Amani

“What happened to me is not only an insult to my dignity, but it had real consequences for my ability to care for my family. Every paycheck I received, I got less than what I was entitled to under the law. The Supreme Court said that this didn’t count as illegal discrimination, but it sure feels like discrimination when you are on the receiving end of that smaller paycheck and trying to support your family with less money than the men are getting for doing the same job. And according to the Court, if you don’t figure things out right away, the company can treat you like a second-class citizen for the rest of your career. That isn’t right.” -- Lilly Ledbetter

These are the words of Lilly Ledbetter who at the age of 60 years old and on the verge of retiring find out that she was being shortchanged at work by what her lawyer called a "good old boys" network. The way she found out about this was an anonymous letter revealed to Ledbetter she was making substantially less money than male co-workers at the Goodyear tire plant where she worked. She was owed almost $225,000 in back-pay over her 19-year career.

Equal Pay Day 2008 observed on April 22nd , was originated by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 as a public awareness event to exemplify the gap between men's and women's wages in United State. The day, observed on a Tuesday in April, symbolizes how far into the year a woman must work, on average, to earn as much as a man earned the previous year. (Tuesday is the day on which women's wages catch up to men's wages from the previous week.).

in another words, a woman has to work the three full months of January, February and March till a day in April ( each year will be different date ) to make the same annual wages/salary that a man doing the same job made in 12 months of 2007. Women in the United States are still paid only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.

This day is giving us the opportunity to look back at the struggle of women for equality – including equality in pay - which give us the hope to keep moving forward and protest the long due inequality – including pay inequality. Addressing women’s inequality shall be protested by all the people who believe in the human rights.

Women in the United State , working full-time, year-round earn only about 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. The median annual earnings of women ages 15 and older are $31,858, compared to $41,386 for their male counterparts. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States )

The gap between the earning of minority women and white men is significantly worse. An African American woman earns just 64 cents for every dollar earned by a white man, while a Hispanic woman earns only 52 cents on the dollar compared to her white male counterpart. The median earnings of African American women working full-time, year-round are $29,6805 compared to $46,4376 for white men; the median for Hispanic women are only $24,214. (Source: National Women’s Law Center )

One year out of college, women working full time earn only 80 percent as much as their male colleagues earn. Ten years after graduation, women fall farther behind, earning only 69 percent as much as men earn.

Likewise, Mothers are more likely than fathers (or other women) to work part time, take leave, or take a break from the work force—factors that negatively affect wages. Among women who graduated from college in 1992–93, more than one-fifth (23 percent) of mothers were out of the work force in 2003, and another 17 percent were working part time. Less than 2 percent of fathers were out of the work force in 2003, and less than 2 percent were working part time. On average, mothers earn less than women without children earn, and both groups earn less than men earn. (Source: Behind Pay Gap, 2007, AAUW)

In terms of financial gain, the wage/salary disparity, over the course of a lifetime costs the average American woman and her family from $440,000 to $2 million.

It is interesting and we need to remind ourselves that the Equal Pay Act of 1962 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were intended to eliminate discriminatory pay practices. However, as history proven, equal rights and access to citizens in the eyes of legal infrastructure of a society is only the first step in the long struggle of implementing and enforcing these laws. Often the societies are caught in the twilight zone of neither being able to eliminate these laws nor the deep rooted patriarchal values and culture along with the greed and wants of the capitalist, curtail the political will to enforce it and bear the consequences.

Contrary to the existing perceptions, respecting the dignity and human rights and equality of men and women will not be costly to the public and private sectors. In Minnesota , where equal pay legislation was implemented for only public-sector employees over a four-year period, the cost was only 3.7 percent of the state's payroll budget. In Washington State , equal pay for state employees, implemented over an eight-year period, cost only 2.6 percent of overall personnel expenditures.

Contrary to the existing perceptions, the reasons women make less is because they spend more time out of the workplace due to care-giving responsibilities and choices. While there is a portion of the wage gap that is explained by economists as a result of work patterns, the U.S. General Accounting Office found that about 20 percent of the wage gap is unaccounted for and thus can be attributed to gender discrimination.

Contrary to the existing perceptions, the wage gap is not only for the low end jobs in the market. A significant gender wage gap is also found among doctors, lawyers and business people. A study of University of Michigan Law School graduates found that even after controlling for child care, work history, school performance and other variables, about one-fourth of the male-female gap remained unexplained.

Contrary to the existing perceptions, the disparity is not due to the unequal education or employment in traditionally low-paying female occupations, as the gap emerges within the first year after graduation from college – even when women are working full time in the same fields as men – and widens during the first 10 years in the work force.

Because pay information is often confidential, it may take a long time for an employee to realize that she is experiencing compensation discrimination. And if employers are insulated from liability after 180 days, they have little incentive to correct pay discrimination that occurs. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which was passed in a close vote of 225 to 199 in 2007 simply re-stated the law as it has been interpreted for many years. What is noteworthy that in United Stated in 2007, 199 members of the House of Representatives voted against equal pay for equal job for all members of this society regardless of their gender. Their votes intended to deprive women of their human rights to equal pay for equal work.

Addressing such glaring inequalities, Jack Tuckner, Esq., testified at the NYC Council on the Need for Gender Pay Equity Legislation on April 17, 2008 and said “Our reactionary political environment is hostile to all progressive notions of fairness, equality and equal access to justice and power. Our most esteemed judicial tribunal, the Supreme Court, is openly contemptuous of an individual citizen’s right to speak truth to power, to question authority, to hold corporaticians accountable for their excesses, if not their crimes. As a nation, we’ve morphed from a Democracy into a Corporatocracy, as BBB’s (Big Business Behemoths), aided and abetted by our corporate media, have redistributed wealth and power upward toward itself and away from us.”

The plight of “ Equal Pay “ is part of the broader movement for equality, justice and human rights and dignity. While many EU countries who are further ahead in the path of gender equality compared to United State, however, women still struggling with the implementation of the Fair Pay Laws. Other women in Africa, Asia and Latin America are still struggling to change the discriminatory laws against women and girls in their constitution. Gender Equality is the pre- requisite of global peace, security and development. Nothing more and nothing less!


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by Tonya (not verified) on

I'm not sure I would use the term "disadvantage" either when it comes to children.  That hole you're digging is getting deeper and

However, I do understand your intent.  Don't like it... but understand it.

Feshangi... you are my hero for the day!


Ben Madadi


by Ben Madadi on

The word doesn't always mean something "offensive" and of course I didn't use it as such. According to dictionary:

a: a disadvantage that makes achievement unusually difficult, b: sometimes offensive; a physical disability

I was using the 'a' version of the definition. As caring for children cannot be a physical disability, then it shall not be taken as offensive. I hope I am not misunderstood now ;)

Azarin Sadegh

I just tried to critisize the use of vocabulary

by Azarin Sadegh on

Hi Ben,

I know what you actually meant, only didn't think you used the right word. "Special condition" and "Handicap" are wrong words :)

But I know that one company cannot set the rules for the rest of the world (even if we are like a 400,000 employees all over the world!). But since I have been in this industry (and my husband too) and I have many software engineer friends working in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, I see the new trend: Working remotely from home (maybe partially), that is actually making the handling of children for women much easier. even a few of my male colleagues are actually the main caretaker for their babies because of the flexibity in their job, compared to their wives working in non-software companies.

Software companies save tons of money by letting many of their employees working from home, and remotely. It has become a real global work env. One of my colleagues moved to Hawai and the other one went back to India, even if their responsibility hasn't changed a bit. Many of my women colleagues had kids while working from home until the last days and became available online very soon afterwards. The funny is that the company's policy insists that they take all the days of vacation off! All they care about is to meet deadlines!

It was something that started by small startups in Sillicon valley and now companies as large as my current company have seen the advantages of such a workplace.

Of course, my note can only applied to the types of jobs that can be done remotely, like writing a software code (all our meetings are web meetings, or phone meetings,etc) and we communicate mainly by instance messaging. This flexibility in the job is extremely appealing for women and gives them better choices: Having ambition at work and at home both!




I hire women managers

by Feshangi on

I have found women to be better than men in organizing things. They listen and are more caring to the needs of others. They are as serious as men when it comes to work and responsibility.  I would hire a woman any day of the week and if she has a child, I would make sure that her childcare expenses are wholly or partially subsidized by the company.



Kaveh Nouraee

It's Not Equal Pay Because It's Not Equal Work

by Kaveh Nouraee on

While I wouldn't call having children a "handicap" as Ben Madadi referred to it, it is a huge factor.

If women did actually perform the same work, and as well as men, pay would not be an issue.

Various studies have shown that women are less reliable than men on the job. Employers take that into consideration. There is no question that caring for the family and small children are important, but business is business, and an employer cannot cater to a woman's individual needs if they expect business to survive. 

Women take time off at double the rate of men. Women will never reach the same corporate heights on the same scale as men as long as they continue to try and play SuperExecuMom. They simply can't do it.

Ben Madadi

Re: Azarin

by Ben Madadi on

I'm happy for you Azarin. What one employer, or another, does is one thing, and they work for their interests, as they see fit. I was talking about a natural reality that causes a demographic reality, women earning less on average. Women earning less does not mean that they are less productive, less smart, or alike, but it can mean that they have the pregnancy issue and the kids issue, which men don't have. This doesn't mean anything bad, it is a reality. Don't get me wrong, in case you did ;) There are also other reasons, such as sex discrimination, but I am not very familiar with this matter in particular. Women can be more familiar.

Azarin Sadegh

This pattern is changing for the best.

by Azarin Sadegh on

I have worked both in France and in the US, as a software engineer in Software companies of all sizes.

In my experience, it is true that being a woman in a job that is usually male dominated, had its own difficulties. The first difficulty was during the interview process. As a woman, I always had to go through many more steps before being hired, for example, I had to prove that I hate kids and I am a true workaholic! That I love pizza (as many companies offer free pizza for diner every night to keep their employees) and I would enjoy working on weekends (similar to all 20 something single nerds who were my colleagues) ..but then, of course after passing this “haft khaane Rostam”, the hiring manager (if it was a man) would have had the same absurd reasons like this guy in the comment below...(sorry Ben!) :-) And of course even if my performance was way above a few other male colleagues, still the promotions missed me for the same reason as before (even if I didn’t have a kid yet...sorry Ben!)

But actually, since I have been hired in a large company (one of the largest US companies) and in the recent years, I am having many more woman engineer colleagues and many of the top managers are now super cool women. (plus, the company is organizing these “SuperWomen meetings” to teach us how to go up the ladder of success and how to deal with macho mangers!) As a sign of this change, two years ago, my manager increased my salary by %20 to be at the same range as others in the team and also they wanted to offer competitive salaries compared to the market (amid my obvious handicap and conditions :)))...Again sorry Ben!)

Yes, the software world seems to have been changed, and has come up a long way, since my first day in France when in my hiring procedure they used a handwriting specialist (to interpret my personality) and a psychic who analyzed my future results using the date of my birth!

The smaller sized companies, Europe (and of course Iran :-)) has still a long way to go to be able to catch the golbalized world of companies like the company I work for. 


Ben Madadi

Some of the causes...

by Ben Madadi on

Women in the West are paid worse ALSO because of certain special conditions they have. Women become pregnant and have children and they usually prefer to take care of their children rather than their professional lives. This is one of the major factors that women do not go high in their professional occupations because of this significant handicap that men do not have. There are also other causes but we must also take into consideration women's special natural condition that creates a huge disadvatage compared to men.