Equal pay has been a topic of discussion in the workplace for several years and today (April 2) recognized the disparities between men and women’s wages.
National Equal Pay Day observes how long a woman has to work in order to make the same amount of money a man made the previous year.
The Federal Equal Pay Act of 1963 made it illegal to pay people differently for the same work, but local lawmakers, including State Representative Nicole Clowney, don’t think it’s enough. During this legislative session, Clowney co-sponsored House Bill 1806 that would establish pay equity between men and women in the state. This would happen in a few ways including giving awards to employers proactive about paying workers equally and allowing the Department of Labor to research and publish findings about pay in Arkansas.
“It’s important to me as a woman who has been in the working world,” State Representative Clowney said. “I think any woman in the working world knows what the struggles look like and know that we have to work twice as hard to be taken half as seriously. And I think that most women are happy to do that and are happy to fight that fight.”
Clowney said research shows disparities are even greater for women of color.
State Representative Denise Garner said it has been a battle for equal pay during this legislative session with the Equal Rights Amendment not even making it out of the Senate.
“I’m constantly baffled by the reasoning behind it,” Garner said. “Folks think that we don’t need it. That our constitution takes care of equal rights, which we know is not true.”
Garner said she will continue to fight for equal pay during her time as a state representative.