If you were among those who may have noticed several women wearing red on Tuesday, no, you were not “seeing red.”
Tuesday was Equal Pay Day, and red is the national movement’s signature color. It was a day supported by women across the nation, and a few local businesswomen did their part to get the word out, too.
On this awareness day, the local women joined the cause, wearing red and reaching out to people in the area.
The Portsmouth Business and Professional Women were set up Tuesday in the Scioto County Courthouse lobby, where they were an extension of the thousands of women across the nation who were encouraging elected representatives to support the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Fair Pay Act.
In 2014, Women made 78.6 cents for each $1 a man made. Women must work until April 4 to earn the same amount a man earned for the same job the previous year, according to these local women. The Portsmouth women proclaimed, “Speak up and make a change! We are!”
Local ladies Shirley Powell, Portia Williams, Karen Evans and Annita Thompson passed out to women in the courthouse lobby a baggy containing a PayDay candy bar, a packet of Equal, and a paper titled Equal PayDay. This was the third year local women have done this, Powell said. She said they do this to raise awareness for women in the workplace.
Scioto County Commissioner Cathy Coleman joined the women in a photo in support of the day and the women. The women also spoke with a postal worker who was in the courthouse, and she, too, gave them the thumbs up and participated in the photo.
Tuesday was Equal Pay Day, a symbolic day for advocates in the U.S. to show support for women in the workforce and draw attention to the gender pay gap. This day represents how far into the year women must work in order to earn what men earned the year before. The awareness day usually falls on a Tuesday, to show how far into the next work week women must work to match the pay earned by men, says the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE). NCPE, founded in 1979, is a coalition of women’s and civil rights organizations; labor unions; religious, professional, legal and educational associations; commissions on women; state and local pay equity coalitions; and individuals working to eliminate sex- and race-based wage discrimination and to achieve pay equity.
As for how this all started, the NCPE says the event started in 1996 “as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men’s and women’s wages.” The goal is not only to seek legislation to narrow the pay gap between men and women, but also for people of color. Also of interest in this movement, because women earn less, on average, than men, they must work longer for the same amount of pay, and the wage gap is even greater for most women of color.
The American Association of University Women (AAUW) on this day, encouraged supporters to use social media to share the hashtag #EqualPayDay to lend their voices to the cause. The NCPE also suggested supporters wear red to show how far women are “in the red” on equal pay.
According to the AAUW, in an article from USA Today, at its current pace of change, women will have to wait 100 years to earn the same pay as men. On average, women are paid about 80 percent of what men are paid. To reach pay parity, women will have to wait until 2119, according to AAUW.
Equal pay for all is important to those in the workplace, and a few local women were a small part Tuesday of making people aware. But every small group that shared their thoughts about the cause came together to make up a very large group of women across the country who supported women about equal pay for everyone.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins at 740-353-3101 ext. 1928