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Women & Money: The Pay Gap

BOSTON (CBS) - Fifty-seven percent of women are in the work force today. Seventy percent of women with school age children are juggling work, home and kids. That is a lot of working moms needing better and affordable child care.

After the great Depression of the 30s and during World War II many women needed to work, much like today, to support their families. Companies found they could pay the women less than they had paid the men.

Although better educated than their mothers and grandmothers, today's women are still not earning as much as men. Women earn on average here in Massachusetts 82 cents to every $1 paid to men. This ratio is even worse for African American women who earn 61 cents, and Latina women who earn 50 cents. Nationwide it is 79 cents.

In August governor Baker signed into law an equal pay bill that was first introduced in 1998. We now have the strongest equal pay law in the nation. Now we wait to see how it effects our daughters and sisters in the workplace.

What does this mean for women? If we look at an average $50,000 a year income over a lifetime career of 45 work years one will have earned $2.25 million and if a woman only earns 82% of that, $41,000 a year, she will have earned $1.8 million.

That's almost half a million dollars ($450,000) less than her male co-worker. The less money she earns the less she has to save to reach her goals of a comfortable retirement, educating her children and buying a home. And the less she earns the smaller her Social Security benefit will be.

The Massachusetts State Treasurer's Office will facilitate a Women's Economic Empowerment Series in two pilot cities this fall, Quincy and Newton. Check with the office for more information on how to sign up.

The pay gap issue is not a feminist issue, it's an equality issue. It affects our families, our daughters, our sons and our grandchildren. Forty percent of women are the family's primary breadwinner.

One more thing: Women need to know what the going salary is for the work they do. They need to know what they are worth. And they need to ask for it. They also should consider going into fields that pay higher wages.

A woman should graduate from college with a marketable degree. Something that will help her find a job upon graduation. Pharmacist, nurse, computer analyst, engineer. Art History sounds so avant-garde and fun as a career. Well minor in it and major in computer science.


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