Pay inequality still a problem for women

Elizabeth Ramirez

Despite living in the 21st century, we are still seeing inequality at the workplace. Women are still being paid less than men, but women are not taking a back seat anymore.

Female Wal-Mart employees across the U.S. have been fighting for equal pay and promotion opportunities since June of 2001 in Dukes v Wal-Mart. The lawsuit was dropped then as it was dropped in June 2011 because the allegations from the employees varied, there were no concrete patterns of gender bias and the judges suggested Wal-Mart was “too big to sue.” Now, female Wal-Mart employees from Tennessee have taken the initiative to sue Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for the same reasons as that of 2001 and 2011.

Equal payment and promotion opportunities should be equivalent with both sexes because a man has the same abilities as that of a woman.

The sex card is played often within society. Because we are constantly ingrained with a patriarchal mind set, the roles women play within society, especially working outside of the home, are linked to sex.

Program coordinator for the Multi-Cultural Center at Sacramento State Jessica Castellon agreed.

“Things have been feminized,” Castellon said. “Women do one thing and then they do another thing and then we kind of feminize whatever that thing is and then once you feminize it we give ourselves the authorization to pay (women) less.”

Nowadays, we see both males and females working out of the “assigned” job and to bring home the bacon. While we are moving in a positive direction in job placements, a male still earns more than a female.

According to the U.S Department of Labor during the third quarter of 2012, the weekly median earning for a woman between 25 to 34 years old was $648 compared to a man earning $720. As the age increased, the earnings of women decreased compared to men.

What we are not considering here is there are just as many educated and dedicated women in the U.S as men. Sometimes women have to prove themselves to their bosses and society they can do jobs associated with men. Other times, women overwork more than men just to achieve acceptance. Acceptance can be achieved for women, if both sexes work together. Both should pull each other up and be at the same level.

Finding acceptance continues for women when they are denied work advancement.

In the 2005 documentary “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price,” illustrates Wal-Mart’s poor wage standards, employee benefits frugalness and its plundering of communities.

In the documentary, Edith Arana, a former Wal-Mart employee in Southern California, told her sex discrimination experience and later decided to sue Wal-Mart for sex discrimination. Arana strived for a managerial position and filed an application in hopes of obtaining the job, but still she fell short.

After applying for the manager position, her boss told her, “There’s no place for people like you in management.” Curious to know the reason behind her boss’ response, Arana asked if it was because she was a woman or because she was black. Her boss responded, “Well, two out of two ain’t bad.”

We have to accept the fact jobs skills are not innate.

When we first acquire a job, we learn the trades of the job as the days go by. We are not automatically computerized to know how everything works at the new job. Each workplace is different.

Arana had the qualifications and experience as an employee of Wal-Mart for six years, yet it wasn’t enough.

Managerial positions must not be linked to men because women can do a fair job as well. In the U.S we see women like Marissa Mayer, chief executive of Yahoo, Beth E. Mooney, chief executive of KeyCorp and Indra K. Nooyi, chief executive of PepsiCo, running big corporations just like men. If men can do it, women can do it too.

Just like Arana’s boss, another individual who needs to consider equal pay and promotion opportunities for women is Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney.

During the second presidential debate, Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney was asked if he supported equal pay for women and what came out of his mouth was astonishing. Romney responded with an example of when he was given the opportunity to assemble a cabinet as governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007. He wanted to find women for his cabinet. So, he asked around women’s groups who apparently had “whole binders full of women.”

Well, it seems like he didn’t understand the question. There might have been “binders full of women” who qualified for his cabinet, but he was asked if he supported equal pay. Just by hiring women for a particular job doesn’t show how women are going to be paid equally to men.

Similarly, the female employees suing Wal-Mart are not being heard despite protests held in Tennessee and 12 other states during the second week of October.

Wal-Mart’s attorney Theodore Boutrous Jr. told the Huffington Post the plaintiffs’ lawyers wanted publicity rather than legal virtue and Wal-Mart’s spokesman David Tovar told the New York Times he blames unions for organizing Wal-Mart’s employees against the corporation.

Gender roles and sex should not matter when it comes to equal pay. Having different anatomies should not determine what job the person can or can’t do. Wal-Mart needs to rethink its wage policies and treat both men and women fairly no matter the work environment.


Elizabeth can be reached at: [email protected]