Unequal pay for equal work may be a form of discrimination. If a wage gap exists between men and women doing the same job, the resulting unequal pay may be a form of gender discrimination. In 1963, then-President, John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law, prohibiting “discrimination on account of sex in the payment of wages by employers engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce.”
Did it work? Not according to recent statistics that reveal women make only 82.2 percent of the weekly earnings of their male counterparts. When pay is broken down on an annual basis, women fare even worse, making only about 77 percent of what men do, based on data from 2010.
Part of the problem may lie in the culture of silence related to wages and salary. Many companies discourage employees from talking about salary; others will go as far as terminating an employee for discussing matters related to pay. The culture of silence exists outside the workplace as well. It’s generally considered taboo to ask another person what he or she makes, regardless of where they work or for whom they work.
The culture of silence makes it difficult to stop discrimination based on gender that results in unequal pay. Lilly Ledbetter, a female worker who has famously fought for equal pay for equal work, did not find out that she was making 15 to 40 percent less than male coworkers doing the same job who had started with Goodyear at the same time that she did until an anonymous note was left in her mailbox.
Source: SFGate, “Gender pay divide persists,” Peter Coy and Elizabeth Dwoskin, June 24, 2012