Should the Government be Involved in Equal Pay for Women?

(Prepared for debate in 6th grade class)

Zinnia Nichols Loller

  

Copyright 2019 by Zinnia Nichols Loller

  
 

Chart about pay gap.

        

The way the pay gap works is through interrupted careers, less working hours due to motherhood, and decreased future earnings. These decreased future earnings come to an average of $419,000 during a lifetime (Cable News Network). That’s a lot. None of these things will change with time, making the gender pay gap something that will never be completely resolved unless we do something. 

Motherhood isn’t simply going to stop happening, and motherhood is one of the main causes of the gender pay gap. If we had a law that women had to be paid while on maternity leave, the pay gap would be much smaller. Employers often view men as the breadwinners of a family, and women’s income as only a second income. If the dad of a family makes enough to support the family, that would justify unequal pay, right? Wrong. 

What about single moms? What if a family has two moms? What then, you ask? Well, then those families start needing government housing, free and reduced lunch, and other government funds that could’ve been used to benefit something like healthcare or education. Ultimately, this hurts our economy a lot.

 The gender pay gap is racist, too. While white women make 77 cents to the white man’s dollar, the disparity narrows between men and women of other races. For instance, Latina women make 92 cents to a Latino man's dollar, and black women earn 90 cents to a black man’s dollar (Opposing Viewpoints Online). But all this comes with a price. The discrimination is worse between that race's women and white men. For example, on average a black man earns less than a white man, so a black woman would have to deal with racial discrimination and gender-based discrimination, making her earnings 48 to 61 cents per a white man's dollar (OVO). That's a loss of $23,658 each year (CNN). Over 80% of black women are the key breadwinners of their families, not the men (The Atlantic). Over 1.2 million family households headed by black women live in poverty in America alone (The Atlantic). It's not that hard to connect the dots. 

The government is required to get involved, according to the 14th Amendment. In the Amendment it clearly states, "no state shall. . . deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of the law. . . .",  This is affirmed in the Equal Pay Act of 2010, "men and women in the same workplace (must) be given equal pay for equal work." Money being property, and the Equal Pay Act being law, the government is obligated to do something, and not doing anything would be a violation of both of these policies. 

Skeptics say that social change will come with time and that if we just wait, the gender pay gap will resolve itself. Well, to that I say, social change is going so slowly that a white baby girl born this year won't see equal pay until she's 91 (CNN). White. That is, of course, assuming she makes it to 91. 

Let's be honest, how many of us in this classroom right now think they're going to live to see equal pay? In 2110, when equal pay is estimated to naturally be mostly resolved, we will all be 103, 104, or dead, most likely the latter. Think about that. Every girl in this class room is going to be underpaid her whole life if we don't do anything. Is that really what all of you want?


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