Equal Pay Day 2016

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By Bill Barclay, Chicago DSA

On April 12, 2016, we'll again reach the day of the year in which the typical woman (receiving median pay) in the U.S. will, when she adds the amount she was paid in 2015 to the amount she has been paid year-to-date, get the same amount of income that her male counterpart (receiving median pay) got in 2015. The National Committee on Pay Equity has designated this day for the past 20 years to call attention to the gender disparity in wages.

Of course, in a political economy where class, gender and race/ethnicity intersect, it can be hard to find the typical woman. So there is a question of who the comparison should be with. Breaking the gender pay gap down by race and ethnicity highlights some significant differences and also illustrates the intersection of various hierarchies of power. The gender pay gap is largest for white women who get only about 75% of while male pay. This larger pay gap reflects the fact that gender inequality is greatest at the top deciles of pay ˗ and these are jobs that go mostly to white workers ˗ where, although a woman may have a high paying job such as a lawyer or a medical doctor ˗ her high-paid male counterpart got a larger starting salary that left her behind from the beginning of her career. This initial pay gap is seldom made up over the course of a career.

What is the impact of race or ethnicity? Our median-paid African American woman gets more than 80% of here African-American male counterpart. And our typical Latina is paid over 85% of her Latino counterpart. However, before we rejoice over lesser levels of gender pay inequality, let's remind ourselves that the African American woman made only about $4 for every $5 her white sister made and $3 for every $5 the typical white male worker made. The story is even worse for our Latina woman worker who made $7 for every $10 her white sister made and only $5.50 for $10 the typical white male worker made.

The U.S. has been stuck about a 20 percent gender pay differential for full-time year-round workers for several years. We've almost come to see it as "natural," or maybe "just the way it is."  

But, suppose our typical woman worker was in a different country. Would she have a different experience? Of course that depends on the country, but let's consider some other wealthy societies. The table below gives the 2016 month through which our typical woman would have to work in each country to get the same amount of income that her male counterpart in that same country received in 2015. (To keep it simple the table, calculated from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, is in whole months.)

 

Country                       2016 Month to Reach Male 2015 Pay

UK                              March

Canada                        March

Austria                         March

Australia                       February

Sweden                        February

Belgium                       January

Denmark                     January

Norway                       January

New Zealand               January

 

A review of the table illustrates an important point about economic inequality and gender pay gaps. The countries with the lowest gender pay gap, where the typical female worker has to work the shortest time into 2016 to catch up with her male counterpart's 2015 wage, are also those that have done the best in terms of resisting the neoliberal policies that have increased inequality in general. Countries that have been most effective in using tax and transfer systems to counter unequal market-wage outcomes are also those most successful in reducing, even though not eliminating, gender wage inequality.

And this takes us to the Sanders campaign. His Paycheck Fairness Act and his advocacy of paid parental leave are the types of policies that can close the gender pay gap. In the spirit of our independent campaign, however, I think that Sanders should make explicit that paid family leave would have an incentive for paternal as well as maternal leave. This lesson was learned by several Northern European countries that, as evident in the list above, perform much better on gender pay equity than the U.S. or the U.K.

Bill Barclay is on the Steering Committee of Chicago DSA, is a founding member of the Chicago Political Economy Group and serves as DSA National Member Organizer.

Individually signed posts do not necessarily reflect the views of DSA as an organization or its leadership. Democratic Left blog post submission guidelines can be found here.

 

Film Discussion: When Abortion Was Illegal

March 26, 2017
· 13 rsvps

Directed by Dorothy Fadiman, When Abortion Was Illegal (1992, nominated for an Academy Award, Best Documentary Short Subject) reveals through first-person accounts the experiences of women seeking abortion before the Supreme Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade in 1973. We are one Supreme Court nominee away from a return in many states to back-alley abortions. Join Amanda Williams, Executive Director of the Lilith Fund, to discuss challenges to reproductive justice and abortion access. (Lilith Fund funds abortions for women in need in the Central and South Texas area.) Learn about how to participate in April Bowl-A-Thons to raise funds for low-income women. View the film here for free before the discussion. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

DSA New Member Orientation Call

March 30, 2017
· 42 rsvps

You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  9:30 PM ET; 8:30 PM CT; 7:30 PM MT; 6:30 PM PT.

LGBT Activism: A Brief History with Thoughts about the Future

April 01, 2017
· 52 rsvps

Historian John D'Emilio's presentation will do 3 things: Provide a brief explanation of how sexual and gender identities have emerged; provide an overview of the progression of LGBT activism since its origins in the 1950s, highlighting key moments of change; and, finally, suggest what issues, from a democratic socialist perspective, deserve prioritizing now. John co-authored Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America, which was quoted by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision that ruled state sodomy laws unconstitutional. 1 pm ET; 12 pm CT; 11 am MT; 10 am PT.

  1. This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have headphones (preferred) or speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Peg Strobel, peg.strobel@sbcglobal.net.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
· 30 rsvps

Join DSA members Glenn Scott and Richard Croxdale to discuss videos produced by People’s History in Texas (PHIT), a project that brings to life the stories of ordinary people in significant socio-political movements in Texas. They will discuss The Rag, their newest documentary, which tells the story of an influential underground paper based in Austin, Texas, from 1966-77. Click here to view Part I (the early years as an all-volunteer paper covering the student, anti-Vietnam and Civil Rights movements), Part II (the impact of Women’s Liberation on the paper) and Part III (building community: covering local politics, nukes, co-ops, feminist institutions). But also check out the video on the Stand-Ins about a group of university students who led a movement to desegregate Austin’s movie theaters in 1961. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT. Here's a blog post about PHIT.

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

April 04, 2017
· 54 rsvps

Join Rahel Biru, NYC DSA co-chair, and Joseph Schwartz, DSA Vice-Chair, on this webinar for an overview of what we in Democratic Socialists of America mean when we talk about "socialism," "capitalism" and the goals of the socialist movement.  9 PM ET; 8 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 6 PM PT.

  1. This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have headphones (preferred) or speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Joseph Schwartz, schwartzjoem@gmail.com.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

What Is DSA? Training Call

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We will talk through the basics of DSA's political orientation and strategy for moving toward democratic socialism, and also have call participants practice discussing these issues with each other. By the end of the call you should feel much more comfortable thinking about and expressing what DSA does and what makes our organization/strategy unique. 8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT. 70 minutes.

Feminist Working Group

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· 15 rsvps

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DSA New Member Orientation Call

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· 7 rsvps

You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT.