Reality: Gender Inequality Hurts Education
How do you combat gender pay inequality? Ask Aileen Rizo-Acosta, who is advocating fair pay for women employees in the teaching field. Local paper Community Alliance spoke with the teacher, who found the harsh reality of fixing the system comes down to more than just a single entity.
In fact, prior pay only becomes a known factor when finding out just how much the Fresno County Office of Education values experience once an offer is made. And often women face much, much lower levels of pay.
Hannanh Brandt’s interview opens up on why Rizo-Acosta’s lawsuit against discriminary patterns is very important, as well. Not only do these patterns violate the Equal Pay Act, but they also help to upkeep a broken system. According to numerous studies, women typically make 78 cents to every dollar men earn. That doesn’t even account for the fact black women make 64 cents and Latina women make 56.
So if the system is already slanted towards inequality, how do you fix a system that’s unwilling to face harsh lessons? California has been trying to fix the problem for quite some time and has just enacted a law to balance the scales.
Because if Ava makes 22% less than Mark at every job, then there is little motivation for governments and boards to change the rules, right? Think about it. It’s easier to lowball someone if you’re using previous lowballing employers as your standard.
Across the board
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2013, a woman makes 84 cents to every dollar a man makes in the city. That’s six cents difference from the national average. Take into account the costs of living in state and it’s still not enough to really negate the point. If American citizens believe teachers are strong enough to raise and educate our children, why are we not paying equally?
Supposedly the Equal Pay Act protects women from pay discrimination but is the concept a reality? Look at the tech industry. Women have vocally spoken up about the lack of representation and harassment faced in a ‘good ol’ boys’ club’ atmosphere. TechCrunch recently discussed a study where women employees noted just how different the atmosphere ranged from colleagues trying to poach team members while on maternity leave to not fighting sexual harassment because the company HR office wouldn’t listen.
In one example, a woman “was propositioned by a hiring manager early in my career when I was a job candidate,” a tale many women have discussed in the public relations field lately. “He clearly indicated that if I slept with him, he would make sure I was promoted as his ‘second in command’ as he moved up the ladder in the company. I was lucky to have the option to reject the offer.”
Education isn’t just about how a child learns, but what and why. If women are discouraged from advancing in any field, then instructors and mentors disappear as well. Representation disappears and there’s no one left to fill the void in every day life. That’s a serious disservice for the elementary school aged girl who codes for fun and enjoys math as much as social studies. The parity’s feedloop will lock out future generations.
A better future
So when women like Aileen Rizo-Acosta step up and demand better pay for not just this generation, but future ones, society benefits. With over 76% of American teaching jobs held by women, what example does that provide for the kids in school about crafting a better world? Showing a very fragmented view while the wider sociological views is very different. The biggest difference being that women have been a key player in educating children since before Laura Ingalls Wilder set up shop.
Women must speak up and out.
Fighting and advocating for the future is very necessary. But there must be a clear difference between prior pay and promotion. If a woman is promoted, she should be paid the same as the former employer. After all, it’s not dictated by her salary, but what the company fairly believed the position was worth to a predecessor of the same job description and responsibilities.
Cases of women pushing for equality, like Heidi Wilson against Citicorp North America, propels the future into the now. When women win, they highlight the new reality. And along the way, women find equality. Slowly, yes. But the end-game is too important to take a consolation prize and a pat on the shoulder.
And if Americans trust people to take care of their children, to teach them how to be successful adults, why wouldn’t equal pay for those same people be a high priority?