25. MALE/FEMALE INCOME GAP
Given the advertisements and commercials showing women in expensive
business suits befitting "the boss" image and the spate of
articles explaining how women cope with executive life, it is quite
logical for the American public to assume that women are indeed making
headway in their struggle to gain equality in the work place.
It may be logical, but it is incorrect. In fact, the situation isn't
simply not improving as fast as it might -- it's getting worse.
The most recent national statistics available reveal that women working
full-time, are, on the average, earning only 59 cents for every dollar
earned by men. The median income for women who worked full time all
year in 1977 was $ 8,620 compared to $ 14,630 for men in the same category.
And the income gap between the sexes is widening instead of narrowing,
despite the passage of the Equal Pay Act in 1963. Nearly 25 years ago,
women were making 63% of what men were earning.
Anew Census Bureau study offers a host of reasons -- but no final answers
-- on why the 19 million women who work full time still earn less money
than men, even if the women have college degrees.
However, the study notes "discrimination in hiring, promotions,
hours of work and pay cannot be ruled out as contributing to the differential."
With the widespread participation of women in the work place (by 1990
it is estimated that three out of four women will be employed outside
the home), it would be easy to conclude that women can be financially
independent. Instead, women are trapped at the poverty level. A shocking,
76% of all welfare families are headed by women. One article cites three
institutional forces that victimize women: discrimination in job opportunities
and wages, a lack of suitable child care facilities, and abuses in the
The lack of media coverage given to a serious and worsening financial
problem which affects more than half our population qualifies this story
for nomination as one of the "best censored" stories of 1979.
Working Women, April 1979, "Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value,"
by Linda Stern; America, Sept. 15, 1979, "Women Still in Poverty";
Ms., November 1979, "ERA -- What If It Fails?", by Lisa Cronin
Wohl; AP, Los Angeles Times, Sept. 25, 1979, "Increase foreseen
in Wives at Work,"; UPI, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Mar. 21, 1980,
"Women Still on Pay Scale Bottom."