By Polly Williams
The recent passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act in the U.S. House of Representatives has drawn national attention to the continuing disparity between women’s earnings and men’s. Equal pay for equal work is fair -- we all seem to agree on that -- yet women’s wages continue to lag behind. The gender gap has narrowed so that women now make 77 percent of what men do, yet even recent gains for women only appear because men’s average earnings rate went down.
Since our state government, with about 90,000 employees, is North Carolina’s largest employer, wage disparities between men and women are, or should be, of prime concern to legislators. Yet The Studies Act of 2008 failed to include the proposed Pay Equity Study Commission. The proposal would have resulted in a study of wage disparities by both gender and race. Four such proposals have been introduced in recent years, without result.