June marks the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy signing the Equal Pay Act. While we have made some improved since 1963, women are still fighting for equal pay as women are making about three quarters of what men make, earning less than men at every educational level.
“Back in 1962, a woman college graduate earned less than the average male high school graduate and less than many high school dropouts,” said Stephanie Coontz of the Council on Contemporary Families on Thursday’s The Cycle. “Today it’s no longer true but at every educational level a woman with a BA earns less than a man with a BA, so you kind of have to get a master degree to earn what a man does with a BA.”
Other factors women face range from workplace discrimination to having no maternity leave and child care issues. “One of the big factors is the fact that America has very few systems to help women stay in the workforce when they have kids,” Coontz said. “We don’t have job protected maternity leave, subsided maternity leave, we don’t have good child care systems so the motherhood penalty in America is about twice as high as it is in other countries that have those better played leave systems.”
The European model, on the other hand, gives women more than three months maternity leave along with job security – something Coontz believes the U.S. should to, and possibly add, to our system. “One of the interesting things of research, if you give women too much leave, more than two years, three or four years as happens in some place like Germany employers don’t actually want to hire them,” Coontz said. “But if you give them to little leave as we do here then they themselves have to quit. So research suggests somewhere between a year and two years of subsidized job protective leaves is the best for moms.”