Tag Archives: Wage-Gap

The Church and the Wage Gap

Wage Gap Church Marquee

There are few forms of discrimination that have as much wide-spread and consistent impact on success then the wage gap. The wage gap references the statistical gap between men and women’s pay for equal work. To date, all skills and experience being equal, white women earn 77 cents on the dollar that white men earn. Men and women of color fare worse.

The Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963, making it illegal for employers to pay unequal wages to men and women who hold the same job and do the same work. At the time of the EPA’s passage, women earned just 58 cents for every dollar earned by men. By 2006, that rate had only increased to 77 cents, an improvement of less than half a penny a year. Minority women fare the worst. African-American women earn just 64 cents to every dollar earned by white men, and for Hispanic women that figure drops to merely 52 cents per dollar. –InfoPlease

And if you don’t think those pennies add up, consider that a college graduated women will lose over $1 million in wage earnings compared to her male counterpart due to wage discrimination.  This sort of discrimination is intolerable and even more so because there is a lot that we can do to address it.

How can the church begin to address this issue? There is much we can do, and plenty of resources to guide us. The following is a simple plan for taking action in your church.

  1. Document and Research
  2. Collaborate and Learn
  3. Talk to the Boss
  4. Celebrate!

1. Document and Research – There are some compelling reasons to make our salaries known. The taboo on sharing how much you make is one of the reasons this sort of discrimination can thrive. Knowing what others in your field make will help you be aware of if you are being unfairly paid.  Churches as communities and action centers are a perfect place to coordinate this kind of sharing. Researching wages within your field and if you are being appropriately paid is something many people already do individually. While individual research has benefits, imagine the collaborative ability a church body has to gather this type of information and keep it shared and public within the community. Within the church, opening conversations about our incomes could have all kinds of other implications as well. Documenting also means letting it be known when you feel you were mistreated or unfairly dealt with as it relates to your wage. If any place should be a safe haven and a place to share those things, it should be the church.

2. Collaborate and Learn– Caring after the orphans and widows in their distress has to do with a lot more then providing clothing and shelter (though that’s good too). Acts of charity are good things, but wouldn’t it be amazing to see the church as a collaborating force to ensure women were treated and paid fairly? The church, as a unified body, is just the sort of community that can provide the resources and preparation for demanding fair wages.  If someone had concerns about their unfair treatment at work, the church should be able to provide contact information and resources for learning how to negotiate, rather then just an offer to pray for the person.  An African American women earning the dollar (rather then 64 cents to a white males dollar) she deserves for her work doesn’t need to depend on the charity of others to survive and she can have the pride of standing on her own two feet, rather then being the victim of oppressive discrimination.

3. Talk to the Boss– Probably the most intimidating and daunting task of many people’s jobs is asking something of their boss. Especially for single-income households, talking to your boss about your pay, or any acknowledgment of being unsatisfied with work, can be a very scary task as there is probably a great fear of getting fired. Once again, the church has an important role in this step. The churches role is to be a supportive and loving body in the midst of injustice. So, not only do we help empower and prepare people to ask for equal wages, we are also there to support them should their demands be met with resistance. It’s much easier to stand strong against mistreatment and discrimination if you have a loving supportive community around you.

4. Celebrate!– I’d urge churches or small groups to have Wage Parties, or maybe Against Injustice parties. When my house mate paid off his last school loan and became debt free, we had a celebratory party. It was a beautiful thing. Like a celebration after finding a lost coin or sheep, we should celebrate when unjustly stolen salaries have been given back. The church should be a place of praise and celebration, for fair wages as much as anything else.


source:  The steps used are based loosely on an article, Mind the Wage Gap, from the fall 2005 issue of Ms. Magazine.

(This post was originally posted in April of 2007)

Equal Pay Day: It’s Time Women Get Even

My wife will soon be entering into a full time professional career as a Family Nurse Practitioner. And I’m not ashamed to say, she will be the primary wage earner in our family. She’ll be the one pulling in the big bucks and putting bread on the table. I have no doubt will survive just fine and be able to support a family. What’s disturbing though, is to know that, without intervention and advocacy, it is very possible she will be denied a fair and equal wage. I believe the wage gap is wrong and you can be assured I will stand up for the rights of my wife and other women to receive proper pay for their work and talents.
The Chart below is from The WAGE Project and uses US Census data. According to the chart, Mindy will earn $30,000 less a year then if, say, I went ahead and had gotten a Master’s degree:
Wage Gap by Education

Today is Equal Pay Day, a chance for Women (and the men around them) everywhere to stand up and demand that our bosses, supervisors, CEO’s and businesses put aside the discrimination and inequality and begin paying Women an equal pay. If your a husband, father, or son, I suggest you try and sit down and do your best to put your listening ears on and ask your female loved ones if and how they feel they have been discriminated against. If your a business owner, boss, or anyone with any authority over pay scales, I suggest you start doing some research and agreeing to take action on this issue today.

I’ll be writing more about this later, but for now I’ll just close with this brief summary from The WAGE Project.

Why Is There A Wage Gap?

The wage gap is the result of a variety of forms of sex discrimination in the workplace, including discrimination in hiring, promotion and pay, sexual harassment, occupational segregation, bias against mothers, and other ways in which women workers and women’s work are undervalued.

Hiring, Promotion, Pay

First comes what most people think of as sex discrimination: the simple and straightforward refusal to hire, promote, or fairly pay women who are just as qualified as men.

Sexual Harassment

Few people realize that sexual harassment also constitutes wage discrimination. After long and repeated sexual harassment, women leave or lose their jobs, potential raises, promotions, opportunities, emotional stability, ability to work, and sometimes their lives.

Occupational Segregation

In 2000, two-thirds of all US working women were still crowded into twenty-one of the 500 occupational categories. And, then women’s work is consistently paid less than men’s work. Are janitors really worth more than nurses’ aides, parking lot attendants more than child care workers, construction laborers more than bookkeepers and cashiers? According to American payrolls, they are.

Taxing Motherhood

Many people believe that the wage gap exists because women choose to care for children. But do they really choose to be paid less for doing the same work they did before giving birth? Forget the mommy track: too many women find themselves shunted unwillingly onto the mommy sidetrack. Frustrated women talk about how, once they came back from maternity leave, colleagues began to treat them as unreliable and unpromotable—almost willfully overlooking any evidence of productivity

Undervaluing Women Workers

Everyday, women workers suggestions are dismissed — only to be discussed seriously when made by a man. Or when employers turn to old boy networks rather than public postings to recruit new talent. Or when interviews or screening tests prize male strengths or deeper voices, even though women’s strengths and communication styles could accomplish the job just as well.

Read more from The Wage Project