According to the U.S. Census, women were paid only 77 cents for every dollar a man earned last year. And my husband is mad as hell about it. That’s because he is part of a growing trend of men who have opted out of the workforce to raise their children and manage their households.
April 22 is Equal Pay Day and the day’s organizers want us to understand that equal pay is a family issue -- not just a woman’s issue. That is certainly the case for families like mine where the woman is the sole breadwinner. (The U.S. Census reported 15,000 men stayed at home last year to care for their families.) That is the case for two-income families that need both incomes to make ends meet. That is the case for female, same-sex couples where one or both women work. That is the case for all of society who will share the burden as underpaid women struggle to afford healthcare, childcare, housing costs and retirement.
Critics dispute the Census report. They claim the wage data is skewed when you account for the fact that women spend fewer years in the workforce than men. Well that’s a family issue, too, isn’t it? Women traditionally miss work to have and raise children.
But more and more men are looking for a better work/family balance. According to a 2007 CareerBuilder.com survey, 37 percent of working fathers said they would leave their jobs if their spouse or partner made enough money to support the family.
Traditional “women” issues like equal pay, gender discrimination and affordable childcare affect all of us. Women and men need to join together now to end the inequality. The Equal Pay Act was passed on June 10, 1963. However, it is predicted working women won’t achieve equal pay until approximately 2050. That’s too long. None of us can afford to wait.