The Pay Goal
March 3, 2020
In July, the members of the United States women’s soccer team fought their way to a fourth World Cup win. Now their focus is on a different struggle: the fight for equal pay. The team filed a lawsuit against U.S. Soccer. It says the women’s team is paid less than the men’s team despite having more victories. The team also gets less money for winning tournaments.
Women at Work
In many fields, women are not paid equally. “The gender pay gap is the gap between what women and men are paid” for the same work, Kim Churches says. She’s CEO of the American Association of University Women. According to the association, American women earn 82¢ for every dollar American men make. Other groups put the number a bit higher or lower. “But no matter what calculation you use,” Churches says, “the conclusion that women are paid less than men is consistent.”
Understanding the pay gap means looking back. Women weren’t always in the workforce. But during World War II, many men went to war. Women kept businesses running. When the war ended in 1945, some women continued to work. Though women were doing the same jobs as men, they weren’t paid the same. Why? It was assumed that a man was a breadwinner and a woman was supporting only herself or had a husband who worked.
Where We Stand
The U.S. Department of Labor says there are more women than men in the workforce today. So why does the pay gap still exist? And what’s being done about it?
One reason is that more men are in top jobs. Top jobs pay more. In 1972, Katharine Graham became the first-ever female CEO of a major company. Since then, more than 60 women have been CEO of a major company. This number is growing. Companies are addressing the gender pay gap. Apple and Starbucks, for example, have taken steps to ensure women and men doing the same work are paid the same amount.
And women in all fields are continuing to fight to close the gap. The U.S. women’s soccer team may soon appear in court to demand equal pay. “Eventually,” team member Alex Morgan told TIME, “you just have to take a stand.”
—By Rebecca Cohen
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