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Equal Pay for Equal Work

A research paper about the wage gap in America

Brett Riffel

Sterling High School

Equal Pay for Equal Work


“Equal Pay for Equal Work”, people here these words many times when talking about the wage

gap in America. This is usually a main argument given by people who don't believe it, they say

that women and minorities get paid less than white males because they don't choose the same

high paying jobs that they are. This paper will refuting this argument and many others that

people hear when discussing the wage gap. When thinking about the wage gap many times

people think only of the gender wage gap between men and women. However, this paper will be

discussing the gender wage gap and the racial wage gap that is present in today's societies. There

are three subsections in this paper, these section are: The Gender Wage Gap, The Race Wage

Gap, and The History and Future of the Wage Gap. The goal for this paper is to shine light on the

massive problem that many people are in but don't realize and to make people realize that sexism

and racism is still present today and needs action to attempt to end it.
Equal Pay for Equal Work


I. History/Future of Wage Gap

A. The US has a long history of the wage gap

1. In 1963 women only made 59 cents to a man's dollar

2. The first efforts to address the wage gap happened in a 1869 letter

B. Laws have tried to help

1. New York was one of the first states to pass an equal pay law

2. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 was passed to try to help efforts but because there

wasn't reinforcement it didn't help

C. The wage gap must be taken care of now

1. Affirmative action is the only way to end the wage gap

2. There are multiple things women can do to make sure they aren't being treated


II. Gender Wage Gap

A. The Gender pay gap affects millions of women in their jobs.

1. Study only evaluates full-time men and women so it's about how much they

earn separately rather than as a whole.

2. The wage gap is more prevalent in jobs that require a higher education and

many times females will have to “prove” themselves by obtaining a higher education than

Equal Pay for Equal Work

B. Low Literacy Hurts Women's Wages More Than Men's.

1. Women of both low and high literacy are still paid lower than men with low

and high literacy.

2. Addresses the opposing view on this topic and answers some of the most

common arguments given from them.

C. The wage gap can be seen in high end and low end jobs

1. The wage gap is even seen in professional athletes. The US Women Soccer

team gets paid significantly less than the Men's Soccer team.

2. male nurses are paid more than female nurses

III.​ ​Race Wage Gap

A. Black women get paid even less the white women

1. median annual earnings for Black women in the US are $33,885 verses $52,535

for White men.

2. Even though people don't realize it, there can still be subconscious racism

B. Black men get less compared to white men

1. Black males get about 70% of the earnings of an average white man, which is

about $16 versus $19

2. Much of this gap is because of how many minorities are in poverty that are not

being helped

C. Even in the same jobs, POC get less than white people

1. Many reports have been made about POC getting less than white people

2. It is hard to tell if people are being paid unequally because many companies
Equal Pay for Equal Work

make it a taboo to share wages

IV. History/Future of Wage Gap

A. The US has a long history of the wage gap

1. In 1963 women only made 59 cents to a man's dollar

2. The first efforts to address the wage gap happened in a 1869 letter

B. Laws have tried to help

1. New York was one of the first states to pass an equal pay law

2. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 was passed to try to help efforts but because there

wasn't reinforcement it didn't help

C. The wage gap must be taken care of now

1. Affirmative action is the only way to end the wage gap

2. There are multiple things women can do to make sure they aren't being treated


V. Although it may not be as severe of a problem as it was in the past, the wage gap is still

prevalent and needs action to end it.

Equal Pay for Equal Work

Equal Pay for Equal Work

The wage gap in the United States is a very controversial topic. In the past years

people have heard about it more and more in the news, on social media, and in workplaces.

When discussing this topic they can hear about it in many different lights. When talking to one

person, they say that it is a very serious problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible,

and when talking to another they say the whole thing is a lie and if women wanted to be paid

more they should work in higher paying job. This leads to the title of this paper, “Equal Pay for

Equal Work”. This is usually what people say about the wage gap when they don't agree with it.

Equal pay for equal work means that men and women get paid for doing the same job. This

concept sounds good on paper, but when discussed in real world, many people use this phrase to

end the discussion about the wage gap. This paper is to address the issue of the wage gap head on

to talk about three topics in the wage gap: The history and future of the wage gap, the gender

wage gap, and the race wage gap. Today people will find out for what is true and false about this


History and Future of the Wage Gap

The wage gap has been around for a long time, almost for as long as we can go back. The

first report of women getting paid less than men is from 1963. During this time women who were

working full time, year-round made 59 cents for every dollar earned by a man (National 2017).

Since that year we have seen a narrowing in the wage gap. Every year we see less than half
Equal Pay for Equal Work

percent decrease in the wage gap. When you calculate this you can see that because of the wage

gap, and how long it has been prevetlant, women have been losing thousands of dollars just

because of their gender. According to AAUW, a organization to help women, as a whole women

have lost an estimate of $700,000 to $2 million because of pay inequality.

The United States have tried to take steps in the past to try to stop unequal pay, but none

of them have worked. One of the earliest reports of someone challenging the wage gap came

from a letter written in 1869. The letter stated ​“Many of these women are now performing the

same grade of work at $900 per annum for which men receive $1800. Most of them, too, have

families to support; being nearly all either widow or orphans made by the war.” (Alter, 2015,

para. 2). During that year a law was passed the House of Representatives, but was watered down

by the time it passed the Senate in 1870. One of the first protest of the wage gap happened in

1883, communications across the country went out when a majority of the workers for a

telegraph company went on strike because of unequal pay between male and female employees.

The strike was not successful but it brought some awareness to the problem. New York was one

of the first states to pass an equal pay law. In 1911, New York teachers were finally paid equally

to their male coworkers after a long battle with the Board of Education. The latest federal law

that was passed to help with the wage gap was the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EEOC 2016). This

was passed by President John F. Kennedy. It's efforts were to help narrow the wage gap but

because of lack of reinforcement, women could still easily be taken advantage of. That is the

main problem with laws regarding equal pay, they don't have any reinforcement. By law there

shouldn't be a wage gap but because it is so hard for women to known if they are being paid
Equal Pay for Equal Work

unfairly, a wage gap still exist. It also doesn't help that companies make it taboo for workers to

share their pay. This is why it is so hard to end the wage gap.

This leads to talking about what needs to happen to make sure the end of the wage gap is

in the near future. Affirmative action is the only way to break the cycle of the wage gap

(Vagianos 2015). A few things that women can do is to develop negotiation skills, and discuss

pay with co-workers. But the main thing is for everyone to speak out against unequal pay against


Gender Wage Gap

The gender wage gap is the most common wage gap people will hear about when

discussing this topic, and this is because it affects more people than the other wage gaps. The

main argument for the gender wage gap is that the reason that women get paid less is because

they chose lower paying jobs. However, many studies only collect data from women who work

full time in high education jobs this means that they are looking at men and women who work in

roughly the same area. According to Newswire, studies about the wage gap do separate studies

for low education and high education jobs. Many times in lower paying jobs men will get

promotions before females do just because of their gender. We can also see this is in high

education jobs. In an article written Kaitlin Mulhere in 2018, it states that women need one more

academic degree to be paid the same as males. This means that women have to constantly be

proving themselves to other people to show them why they deserve to be paid equally. The wage

gap can be seen in both high end and lower end jobs. The US women's soccer tea, is a perfect
Equal Pay for Equal Work

example of showing a high end job that has pay inequality. The women's soccer team gets paid

almost four times less than the mens team does (Max Lewontin 2016). The women on the team

have spoken up about this issue and are asking for equal pay and to be treated fairly. An example

of a lower end job having unfair advantages towards men is in nursing. Male nurses make more

than $5,000 per year for doing the same amount of work as women nurses (J. Spetz 2016). This

just shows specific examples of the wage gap and refutes the argument that the wage gap only

exists because women choose lower paying jobs.

Race Wage Gap

The most under talked about topic regarding the wage gap is the racial wage gap. The gap

between men and women is bad, but it gets even worse when you look at minorities wages. The

first statistic we can look at comes from Daly, Hobijn, and Pedtke from the ​Economic Letter​ in

2017, this states that black men earn about 70% of what white men earn in a year. So by this we

can know that white women and black men earn about the same. Black women are just behind

them with earning 95% of what a white women does. The real problem in with hispanic women.

These women are paid less than any other race. In 2016, Hispanic women were making 60% of

what white men were making. Many times this is because these women are being taken

advantage of the most in their workplace. Many Hispanic women have come to America to seek

a better life for their families. Most of the time they are stuck with taking low paying jobs

because they are not desired is higher paying jobs over white men primarily. Even in higher

paying jobs people of color will be getting less than white people. There have been many reports
Equal Pay for Equal Work

in which people of color were being paid unfairly simply because of their race. Even if jobs don't

mean to have this racial bias, many times people have subconscious racism that can affect the

workplace. It also doesn't help that many companies make it taboo for employees to share their

wages, making it harder to identify unequal pay.

It is vital that we end the wage gap now. Millions of people are affected by unfair

companies that don't value their employees at the same level. The wage gap is expected to be

closed in 216 years (Wilde 2018). This means that people for generations will have to deal with

this form of racism and sexism in their workplace. But that doesn't mean it can't be helped.

People need to start standing up for themselves and ask the questions that many people are to

afraid to. By taking affirmative action, people can help make sure that the wage gap doesn't

broaden anymore than it is now.

Equal Pay for Equal Work


Alter, C. (2015, April 14). Equal Pay Day: Here's the History of the Fight for Equal Pay for

Women. Retrieved from ​

Daly, M. C., Hobijn, B., & Pedtke, J. H. (2017, September 05). Disappointing Facts about the

Black-White Wage Gap. Retrieved from


EEOC. Equal Pay/Compensation Discrimination. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Kevin Miller. The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Lewontin, Max. Star players take on U.S. Soccer's gender wage gap. (2016, March 31). Retrieved



Mulhere, K. (2018, February 27). Gender Pay Gap: Women Need Extra Degree to Earn What Men

Do | Money. Retrieved from ​

National Committee on Pay Equity NCPE. (1970, January 01). Retrieved from
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Newswire. (2017, December 06). Average Gender Pay Equity Gap Is 27 Percent, According To

New Research From CEB. Retrieved from


Spetz, J. (2016, March 01). The Nursing Profession, Diversity, and Wages. Retrieved from

Wilde, H. (2018, April 10). Does the Wage Gap Exist? I Was Paid 60 Percent Less Than Men in

the Same Role. Retrieved from

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BEDNAR, J. (2014). Tackling the Gender Wage Gap. ​Businesswest​, ​30​(23), 53.

This article further proves the point of the gender wage gap that we have in

the united states. In 2014 women were being paid 77 cents for every dollar a man

was making. This article also talks about the Paycheck Fairness Act and how it

will not fix the problem due to women choosing less paying jobs and working


I think this article will help me because the main argument saying that this is

no true wage gap is that women choose lower paying jobs. While this may be true

my other article will answer this by showing ho is the same job environment that

woman will be paid less than men

Compton, M. (2007). The Gender PAY GAP. ​Women In Business​, ​59​(6), 32.

Michelle Compton provides statistics and proof that there is a wage gap

between working men and women. In this book she address the claim that the

reason there is a wage gap is because women will take maternity leave. The

statistics she shows only evaluate the pay for full-time women and full-time men.

She not only shows that women will get paid in jobs that require less education

but that the gap increases in jobs that require higher education jobs.

This source will be useful in my research because it gives statistics and

answers a lot of the opposite side’s arguments in the topic. I will use this source
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when I need proof to show that the wage gap exists. This source also shows ways

to fix the problem if a woman finds herself in a position like this.

MARTIN-OSUAGWU, D. (2014). Unparallel Pay. ​Jet​, ​123​(8), 12.

Matthew L. Wright presents statistics from different wage gap in the united

states, a race wage gap. In this article he writes about how one of the many

problems with the wage gap is that black women get paid even less than white

women. In the article he states “median annual earnings for Black women in the

US are $33,885 verses $52,535 for White men.” That is nearly 65% of what they

would get paid if they were white men. He also talks about how an act was the

Paycheck Fairness Act didn't pass which would be beneficial to women that are

affected by the wage gap.

I can use this source in my research to write about how the wage gap goes

beyond gender. This source provides statics as well and history about how we

have tried to end the wage gap before. This is also useful because it is written by a

man showing that it's not just women who think that they aren’t being paid fairly.

Trageser, C. (2017). ASKING PRICE. ​Marie Claire (US Edition)​, ​24​(7), 55.

This article talks about how it's hard to break the cycle of wage gap because

once a women gets paid lower than a man in the first jobs, future employers are

likely to ask for past pay history and unconsciously pay them lower than their

male co workers. Many lawmakers are trying to push for it to be illegal for
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employers to ask for past incomes. This article further pushes the need for a law

of some kind to be passed to we can finally end the wage gap.

I will use the information in my article because it talks more about what

causes women to be paid less and how it is an endless cycle unless we do

something about it.

(1997, September 18). Equal pay for equal work. ​Christian Science Monitor​. p. 20.

This article gives more detail about our history in trying to end the wage gap.

This article says that the Equal Pay Act was passed 34 years before this article

was written in 1997. You can also find that a woman will earn less money with

higher education than a man with lower education will in the same job. It presents

the problem with the Act as well,saying that lack of enforcement was the reason it

didn't work.

This will be helpful for my research because I will be able to provide proof

with why we can't fix the wage gap in the status quo. There isn't enough

enforcement making sure that women are being paid fairly and women don't

always know that they are being paid unfairly. This article also shows that this has

been a problem for a while and that even back then they know it is a problem.