By Sherrod Brown
As parents, we all want our daughters to have the same opportunities as our sons. As a father of two girls, I’m tired of seeing Ohio women lose $16 billion in income each year because they still don’t earn equal pay for an equal day’s work.
Ohioans work hard and hard work deserves fair pay, regardless of gender.
Yet, according to a new report from the National Partnership for Women & Families, Ohio women who are employed full time are paid just 77 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a yearly gap in wages of $10,430. That’s unconscionable. It’s been said time and again and remains true: equal work deserves equal pay.
The report also found that if the gap between men’s and women’s wages in Ohio were closed, an Ohio woman working fulltime would have enough funds for approximately 1.7 more years of groceries, eight more months of mortgage and utilities payments, 15 more months of rent, or six more years worth of gas.
With so many families struggling to pay their bills and feed their families, it is imperative that we take steps to ensure women are making the money they’ve earned.
Absent congressional action, it is estimated that at the current rate the wage gap is closing, women will not be paid equally for more than four decades. And if the pay gap continues, women will never be able to catch up. A lower starting salary doesn’t just mean a smaller paycheck—it means a smaller pension, a diminished 401(k), and smaller Social Security check benefits. The discrimination that begins at hiring continues for life. There’s nothing fair about that.
That’s why I am continuing to fight for the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation that would close loopholes that allow pay discrimination based on gender. Although John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law nearly fifty years ago, making it illegal for employers to pay men and women different wages for the same work, women have made only minor gains against the salaries earned by men for performing the same work.
With nearly 600,000 households in Ohio headed by women, it is urgent that women earn the pay they deserve. The Paycheck Fairness Act would strengthen the ability of women to fight for equal pay, provide for their families and children, and contribute to our state and local economies.
Last week, we recognized Equal Pay Day—a day that shows how late into the current year women must work to catch up to what men earned in the prior year. We shouldn’t have to wait until April—four months into the year—for women to finally make the same amount of money that their male counterparts made the previous year. Ohio women are hard working. They get up early, stand on their feet all day, and then head home and take care of their children—they don’t ask for a handout. They don’t ask for a bailout. But they do ask for equal pay.
We owe it to our mothers, our daughters, and women everywhere to continue to fight for equality and for the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Sherrod Brown is a United States Senator from Ohio.