Equal Work Deserves Equal Pay

Wage Discrimination Continues to Cast a Shadow



Even in 2015, equal pay for equal work for women is not a reality in the United States and it’s no different for female professional soccer players. The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) only pays its players between $6,000 and $30,000 per year, while Major League Soccer (MLS) players earn a minimum salary of $50,000 per year. These low salaries act as a serious deterrent to players starting the game. Jazmine Reeves, 2014 Rookie of the Year for the NWSL’s Boston Breakers, had to leave the world of professional soccer because she was unable to get by on her $11,000 salary (that’s less than annual earnings on the U.S. minimum wage!).

The women’s international team doesn’t fare any better. The women of the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) just claimed their third title as winners of the World Cup. Despite the fact that the women’s team is far more successful on the international stage, winning two out of six possible World Cups while the men haven’t made the semifinals since 1930,  their salaries don’t come anywhere close to those of their male counterparts. The total payout for the Women’s World Cup this year will be $15 million, compared with the total for the men’s World Cup last year of $576 million, nearly 40 times as much.

When we address the gender pay gap, most are already familiar with the fact that women make on average just 78 cents for every dollar their male counterparts make. While this remains true, not all women make even that: women of color face an even greater disparity. African American women make an average of 64 cents for every dollar earned by their white male counterparts and Latina women earn an average of 54 cents.

This year, April 14 marked Equal Pay Day, the day in the new year until which white women would have to work to earn what their male counterparts made in the previous year. On June 4, we observed Moms’ Equal Pay Day, when mothers’ average earning catch up to fathers’. Because the gap is wider for women of color, their day for equal pay comes later in the year: Equal Pay Day for African-American women is on July 28 and Equal Pay Day for Latina women is on October 8.

These dates show that the gender pay gap is a multifaceted problem that is in dire need of a multifaceted solution. The gender wage gap persists at all levels of education, within occupations and across industries, including sports. Part of that solution is raising awareness about gender pay discrimination and advocating for legislation to help correct this injustice, and the upcoming Equal Pay Days are excellent opportunities for action.

The Reform Movement has long advocated for an end to the indignity of pay discrimination. In Leviticus 19:13, we are taught that to withhold a worker’s wages is to defraud her, an act akin to robbery. In Genesis 1:27, we learn that all human beings are created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of the Divine, and are thus deserving of equal rights and treatment. Together, these teachings compel us to fight for fair wages for all people—for women and men, mothers and fathers alike. We heed our tradition’s call for equality so that neither gender nor parental status prevents anyone in our society from earning just compensation for their work.

Learn more about the RAC’s work on pay equity here!

 

Emily Brundage

 

Emily Brundage is a rising senior at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania and is studying Political Science and Public Health. She is a 2015 Machon Kaplan participant and is interning at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

 

 

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Machon Kaplan Participant

About Machon Kaplan Participant

Machon Kaplan is the Religious Action Center's work/study internship program for undergraduate students interested in Judaism and social justice. Learn more at www.rac.org/mk. The views expressed in these posts do not necessarily reflect the views of the Reform Movement.

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