What's on Our Mind 4-16-2021

What's On Our Mind

For every dollar a man earns, women earn just 82 cents. Yesterday, Congress took an important step to close that gap with the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act.

The COVID pandemic has hit women much harder than men. The ensuing child care and school crises forced many women to leave the job force. This will have a devastating impact on their earning potential. Some have even estimated that the pandemic will set gender parity back a generation. The Paycheck Fairness Act is desperately needed. 

“This bipartisan legislation will stamp out pay discrimination and ensure that women have the tools they need to hold employers accountable for unfair employment practices, ” said Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN), the bill’s chief sponsor.

However, pay equity has been a political issue as early as the 1860’s. Suffragists tied the right to vote with equal pay. We won the right to vote, but not equal pay.

President John F. Kennedy, 60 years ago, tried to fix that problem with the Equal Pay Act which strived to end workplace pay discrimination. Loopholes and adverse court rulings rendered the  bill powerless, and the fight continued.

Despite this, women still made inroads in other areas. But it has not been as comprehensive as it needs to be. One of the most significant breakthroughs came with the election of Vice President Kamala Harris, the first female to hold that office. 

Despite earning less than men, women today control a third of total U.S. household financial assets —- more than $10 trillion, according to a McKinsey research report. 

While women’s wages remained low throughout time, their labor force participation grew, fueling the income growth of the middle class. Women have broken down some of the CEO doors at Fortune 500 companies. Women have surpassed men in obtaining college degrees and nearly one third of all lawyers and doctors are women.

Women are registered to vote in the U.S. at higher rates than men. In recent years, the number of women registered to vote in the U.S. has typically been about 10 million more than the number of men registered to vote.

When JAC began, there were only 17 women in Congress. Today, there are 144 seats held by women. JAC continues to play a pivotal role in helping to elect women to Congress. Yet even with the record number of women serving, it remains far below the female share of the overall U.S. population.

JAC was formed in 1980 as the first national women’s PAC aiming to give women a voice in the political process. Even though we earned less than men on the job, our dollars counted just as much when it came to supporting candidates. 

Today that still holds true. Last year we supported 110 candidates and helped send four new women to Congress: Carolyn Bourdeaux (GA-7), Sara Jacobs (CA-53), Kathy Manning (NC-6), and Deborah Ross (NC-2).

It will now be up to the Senate to do what’s right for women and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. Call your Senators at 202-224-3121. Our paychecks may not be equal yet, but our voices certainly are.