Equal Pay: Now and Then

In some instances, people think that company CEOs and executives earn higher without doing much of work while the laborers, who are at the bottom rank of the work force hierarchy, usually do heavier jobs while only earning little. In addition, people assume that men earn higher than women do. Even though the Equal Pay Act was already enacted, there is still inequality in the distribution of work payment between men and women. The Equal Pay Act was passed on June 10, 1963 and was effective starting June 11, 1964, under the administration of President John F. Kennedy.

The reason behind its resolution was brought about by the situation of the employers during the Second World War. During this time, majority of American women worked at war industries. The National War Labor Board encouraged employers to make voluntary “adjustments which equalize wage or salary rates paid to females with the rates paid to males for comparable quality and quantity of work on the same or similar operations” (Brunner). The Equal Pay Act also prohibited discrimination on account of sex in determining payment of wages (“Equal Pay Act of 1963, as Amended”).

However, employers ignored the request. Aside from it, women lost their jobs at the end of the war to give way to returning soldiers. During the 1940s until the 1960s, job listings were mainly based on gender, with higher level jobs offered to males. As such, job listings in newspapers were usually separated for men and women job seekers. However, there were times that job ads were the same for men and women, but pay scales were separate and unequal. In fact, women who have full time jobs earned 59-64 cents for every one dollar that males earned despite having the same job.

Fortunately, the Equal Pay Act was passed, thereby rendering it illegal that women were paid less based on their sex (Brunner). Differences in pay can only be considered based on the following: seniority, merit, quantity or quality of work, and other factors aside from the worker’s gender (Steingold & Schroeder 70). Unfortunately, this Act was not fully exercised as shown by the disparities in the wages earned by males and by females who have the same job. Back in 1963, when the Act was still fresh, a wage gap existed.

Decades later, in 2005, there was still disparity, although the percentage of women’s earnings improved from 59% of the wages men earned in 1963 to 81% in 2005. Some explanations were offered to give light to this disparity. One of the things that contribute to the disparity was the employment of older women, many of whom have jobs that were “still subject to the attitudes and conditions of the past. ” On the other hand, younger women during the 1990s enjoyed advances in wage payment (Brunner).

The best explanation for the still existing wage gap was provided by Lee: “Being paid unequal wages for different jobs is the American way. ” He added that there are some professions which merit larger pay, such as professional football players in comparison with surgeons. In addition, surgeons have larger earnings than nurses, and nurses earn more than nursing assistants. Furthermore, the wage gap can be explained by the concept of comparable pay versus equal pay. It indicates that men usually are involved in making life-decisions, leading to a higher salary (Lee).

Moreover, Lee cited that men are more likely to engage in certain situations that are otherwise difficult for women, such as traveling for work, taking more dangerous jobs, working jobs in unpleasant environments, and working in difficult sciences. On the other hand, women have to consider their families, thus affecting their choice of jobs that offer flexible and shorter hours. Furthermore, women choose jobs that are not dangerous or difficult, jobs that do not require traveling, and jobs that need good social skills (Lee). Works Cited

Brunner, Borgna. 2007. “The Wage Gap. ” Pearson Education, Inc. 7 May 2009 <http://www. infoplease. com/spot/equalpayact1. html>. “Equal Pay Act of 1963, as Amended. ” N. d. United States Department of Labor. 7 May 2009 <http://www. dol. gov/oasam/regs/statutes/equal_pay_act. htm>. Lee, Al. 29 April 2007. “Do Women and Men Earn Equal Pay in 2007? ” Payscale. 7 May 2009 <http://blogs. payscale. com/ask_dr_salary/2007/04/men_vs_women_sa. html>. Steingold, Fred, and Schroeder, Alayna. The Employer’s Legal Handbook. United States: Nolo, 2007.