Equal work should mean equal pay

May 09, 2000|By Bonnie Lipton

ALTHOUGH WOMEN have made great strides in every facet of the workplace - breaking glass ceilings and reaching the pinnacle of success in countless professions - we still earn only 73 cents for every $1 earned by our male counterparts. However, in the arena of professional sports, this is one problem the women of the U.S. soccer team no longer have.

Unwilling to accept unequal compensation, the 20 team members - winners of the 1999 World Cup who brought the game to new heights and increased its popularity worldwide - boycotted the Australia Cup in January. Because of their actions, for the first time in soccer history, women on a national team will receive the same salary and percentage of gross revenues as their male counterparts.

Women across the country can follow these players' example and unite as a group to demand an end to wage discrimination in every workplace. Thursday is Equal Pay Day, which represents the day that our wages will finally "catch up" to what our male colleagues earned in 1999. In other words, we must work 17 months to match the salary earned by men in 12. While several factors contribute to this inequality in pay, gender discrimination tops the list.

According to a recent study conducted by the AFL-CIO and the Institute for Women's Policy Research, the average working woman's family would earn $4,205 more per year if women were paid as much as men with similar job qualifications. In fact, it is estimated that working women's families lose $200 billion of income each year because of the wage gap.

As young girls search for role models, they can look to these soccer players and take pride in their achievements both on and off the field. When women come together as a team, we can make a difference for ourselves and future generations.

Bonnie Lipton is the national president of Hadassah.

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