EDITORIAL: Close gender pay gap

York Dispatch
  • Women working in York County make less than 75 percent of what men make on average.
  • We must end discrimination through transparency, accountability and fairness in the workplace.

If the pace of change in the disparity between what women and men are paid for doing the same job remains at its current glacial pace, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, it will be 2059 before pay parity is realized in the United States.

Victoria Kageni-Woodard, of York City, is originally from Kenya and followed in her father's footsteps into the construction industry.

That’s not acceptable.

Particularly when, as the IWPR found, "women are nearly half the workforce and are the equal, if not main, breadwinner in four out of 10 families."

In 2015, female full-time workers made only 80 cents for every dollar earned by men — a gender wage gap of 20 percent, according to IWPR.

Here in York County, as Dispatch political journalist David Weissman reported, a recent study from the American Association of University Women shows women in the congressional district overseeing York County make less than 75 percent of what men make on average, based on 2015 data.

Report: York's gender wage gap one of widest in state

York County must improve just to meet the dismal U.S. statistic.

As Weissman reported — and the IWPR research substantiates — women working in traditionally male-dominated industries such as construction and public works fare even worse.

He spoke with York City resident Victoria Kageni-Woodard, who has never had a female superior in her years as a construction worker.

She has also “grown thick skin” in order to make a living. Because she is a union worker, and as such doesn’t worry about pay disparity as a black woman on construction jobs, she has been assigned to operate lighter equipment than the men (which  garners less pay).

But men earn more than women in almost any occupation, according to IWPR’s Status of Women in the States project, which tracks gender wage gap across states. The report on sex and race discrimination in the workplace shows that “outright discrimination in pay, hiring or promotions continues to be a significant feature of working life.”

That project also studied innovative ways to eliminate the wage disparity and to end discrimination through greater transparency, accountability and fairness in the workplace. By instituting such employment policies, workers would have legal grounds to challenge blatant discrimination.

Participation in workers’ unions and raising the minimum wage (which would primarily benefit women in the workforce) are other ways to end disparity.

While legislators, such as U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Dillsburg, are opposed to “more mandates from Washington,” there might be legislative ways to level the playing field, and they, too, must be explored if our political leaders are sincere about supporting gender pay parity.