Equal Pay Day

Sara Spritzer

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Ninety-eight days into 2014 is how long it will take women to earn in wages what men did in 2013. Ninety-eight days – 98 – that number infuriates me.

The 98th day of the year is April 8, which is the significance of Equal Pay Day. Equal Pay Day is an awareness day surrounding the issue of the wage gap between genders. It was created in 1996 by the National Committee on Pay Equity. This awareness day is an important day to be acknowledged in our nation, and it’s a call to action for policy makers who can change this sickening gap.

President Obama has responded to this call for action. He issued two executive actions to promote pay equity in the nation. One action involves prohibiting federal contractors from retaliating against employees talking publicly about how much money they make. The other action will require employers to report salaries by sex and race. This call to action may help to promote pay equity, but I believe more steps need to be taken by federal politicians to diminish the wage gap.

We live in a country where politicians tread lightly around privileged groups (for the most part). Politics are a terrible gray area, and people feel so passionately about a variety of issues. We live in a land of freedom, where people are free to think how they wish and stand up for what they believe. The government does not have the right to take this away. The government also promises protection to its people, and that’s an important role that sometimes is forgotten. When people are being discriminated against outright for their gender or gender identity, that’s when the government has to step in and do something.

The federal government needs to set a standard for how people treat others. They need to attempt to squash ignorance and intolerance. If people are free to think, they should also be free to be. People cannot change who they are just because others do not agree with their lives.

Women should not be making less than men because of their gender. This isn’t an issue of women simply not being aggressive or assertive in the workplace—it’s an issue of the government being supportive and empowering of women. It’s an issue of employers empowering women to strive in their careers. It’s an issue of viewing women’s issues as men’s issues.

It happens locally. Just recently, the UIdaho Blog Magazine published an article about women in higher education. It had a source who believed women did not help in higher education; they should work in the home.

These articles and viewpoints are important, and everyone is entitled to their opinions. Ignorance infuriates people, and that’s when things get accomplished. When people feel passionate, they often do incredible work.

People need to get passionate about pay equity. Women deserve better in this nation. Women should not be okay receiving less pay than men for the same work. Citizens need to demand more from those who represent them.

These are the reasons why the university needs a Women’s Center. I often wonder, if the Women’s Center wasn’t here, would the university even acknowledge Equal Pay Day? Would anyone even care? I have my doubts.

Last Friday’s edition of the Argonaut had an offensive comic about Equal Pay Day. It illustrated a woman with a shirt labeled “Feminist” verbally attacking “Every Other American” and holding an Equal Pay bill. Apparently, everyone other American hates the idea of equal pay, and the only people who are passionate are feminists, who are crazy and force their ideas on everyone. I didn’t know hosting a pay equity bake sale was so harassing.

When the pay gap is brought to the attention of everyone in this way, people will start to realize how absolutely ridiculous a gender pay gap is. People may think about it in a new way and they may even want to cause a change. These are the important things—the things that cause a change. These events set a standard for policy makers in our nation, and that is why they are important.

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