Wage Gap Still Exists 50 Years After Equal Pay Act

Even though this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, mandating that women be paid as much as men, statistics show that women are still earning less on average. According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women in Texas and the rest of the United States earned a little over 82.2 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2011.

However, according to a labor economist at the University of Pennsylvania, the wage gap is really more about women taking lower-paying jobs than actually getting paid less than men for the same work. She said the statistics show that "in states with larger non-urban populations, there are larger gender gaps," which could be because strength is a bigger factor in rural area employment and men, typically, are bigger and stronger than women.

For example, the biggest disparity in wages occurred in the rural state of Wyoming, where women make just 69.7 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts. In contrast, in California, the state with the smallest wage gap, women earn 89.9 cents on the dollar. The labor economist concluded that the wage gap is much less in geographical areas where there are more white-collar office jobs.

When the Equal Pay Act passed in 1963, women were making just 58.9 percent of what men were being paid. The law prohibits sex discrimination by demanding that women and men are to be paid equally for equal work performed in the same establishment. That means a female and a male worker in the substantially same position at the same company must be compensated equally.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "50 years later, women are still paid less," Ann Belser, Jan. 23, 2013.