By Mary Beth Maxwell
Recent headlines reveal what many of us already know -- Americans are witnessing the highest inflation rates seen in over 20 years. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food prices climbed nearly five percent in 2007, and as housing and energy costs skyrocket out of control, working families are getting squeezed. In these difficult times, we should also be reminded that women face even greater financial struggles when weathering this economic storm.
With the observance of Equal Pay Day on April 24, we mark how far into each year a woman must work to earn as much as a man did in the previous year. Recent wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not give cause for celebration. In 2007, women earned only 80 cents for every dollar a man earned. This pay gap was substantially greater for minorities, with African-American women making only 70 cents and Hispanic women making only 62 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. While women are more reluctant to negotiate salaries and are often employed in underpaid professions, one grim reality remains -- gender-based discrimination still inherent in our society has largely caused the pay gap that persists today.