New Haven Advocate – Betsy Yagla

4/14/2010

NEW HAVEN — Even in so-called “pink-collar” jobs, where women dominate the field, men earn more.

In Connecticut, women earn 71 cents for every $1 a man earns, according to a new study by the AAUW (American Association of University Women). The national average is 77 cents on the dollar.

Nurses and school teachers make 10 percent less than their male counterparts, according to the National Committee on Pay Equity.

National Equal Pay Day, a day designed to draw attention to that disparity, is Tuesday, April 20.

“Women’s income is no longer an alternative income for families,” says Teresa Younger, who heads the state’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Women. “It’s a necessary income for families, whether she’s head of the household or a dual provider.”

Equal pay, says Younger, is “essential” to the state and country’s long-term economic security.

Last year the state legislature passed the “fair pay” act, which (similar to the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act signed by Obama in 2009) extends the amount of time a woman can complain and file a lawsuit about unequal pay up to two years after a violation. The legislation also gives whistleblower protection to people who share salary information to assist in a gender-wage legal action. Previously, the courts had ruled that, after starting a job, a woman only had 180 days to complain about pay inequality.

“Most people don’t know within 180 days of starting if you’re being paid disproportionately to your male colleagues,” Younger says. “At that point, you’re probably just happy to have a job.”

In 1963, when the federal Equal Pay Act was signed into law, women earned 59 cents for every $1 a man earned. More than 40 years later, a gap still exists. “It’s really critical that we not lose sight of this as an ongoing problem,” Younger says.

Original Article