The Associated Press Deloitte CEO Joe Echevarria gestures as he speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington Monday during a ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act.
By ALISSA SCOTT
Recorder News Staff
Fifty years after the federal Equal Pay Act was signed, Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane said the pay ratio of women to men in America is unacceptable.
"I think that there have been advancements in that it's common for women to study in professions, or go for jobs, that are traditionally more male," Thane, who was a keynote speaker at the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Women's Symposium last year, said. "But, across the board, we still don't get the positions. We don't get positions of leadership in those positions and there is still a glass ceiling that we are staring up through and that is unacceptable. We are 52 percent of the population."
The act was signed by John F. Kennedy on June 10, 1963, when women were paid an average of 59 cents for every dollar men were paid.
In New York state, women earn 84 percent, or 77 cents per dollar, of what their male counterparts earn, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a news release. Over a lifetime, he said, they will earn half-a-million dollars less than men.
"In 2013, this is unacceptable, and one of the main points the Women's Equality Act works to overcome," Cuomo said. "It would require employers to base their pay decisions on qualifications and not gender."
The Women's Equality Act is more specific to changes that will be implemented by employers than the original act.
"I think once they adopted it, they were a little shy of what they had done and so they muddied the language," Thane said. "And so it brings us to today and women only make 77 cents on the dollar. It affects the entire economy because the standard of living for women is not the same as men."
Thane, who said very often when she's in a government meeting, she's the only woman in the room.
"It's very odd to sit in a meeting, even one that I call about a city issue, and I'm the only woman there," Thane said. "Or if I'm called in one of my other capacities into a meeting and I'm of one or two women in the room, and someone will say we should take notes and everyone in that room will turn and look at me. Because that's a woman's job. That's unacceptable."
Heather Klippel of Northville owns her own business, Klippel's Kozy Korners, so she is able to set her own pay rate. However, Klippel said she thinks it's wrong that other women do not get paid fairly.
"We work just as much," Klippel said. "We work just as hard, if not harder."
Thane said women need to bring back the passion they had during Women's Suffrage Movement.
"Women must demand, as we did 100 plus years ago, equal rights," Thane said. "We demand equal rights...We really have to stand up together and lock arms again."
Julia White of Amsterdam said during the Women's Suffrage Movement, women were thought to not be as capable as their male counterparts. In 2013, she said, that myth has long been busted.
"We've come this far as a society, you would think we would be paid the same [as men,]" White said. "We're just as capable, if not more. We should get paid the same for doing the same work."
Her father, Charlie White, agreed, noting that having to discuss this at this point in the game is a "drag."
"You would expect more out of our country," White said. "If you look at college graduation rates from women to men, women are killing them. You would think with their level of education [they would get the better positions.]"
Cuomo announced several congressional leaders' support for the Women's Equality Act on June 7. The act will work to not only achieve pay equity, but also stop sexual harassment in all workplaces, remove barriers to remedying discrimination and strengthen human trafficking laws.
Congresswomen Cuomo said support the act include: Nancy Pelosi, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Nita Lowey and Carolyn Maloney.
After 50 years, Cuomo said there is still work to be done.
"It is clear that 50 years after the Equal Pay Act, our work to fully shatter this glass ceiling is far from done," Cuomo said in a press release. "New York has always led the way, and the Women's Equality Act will once again make the Empire State the leader on women's rights in the workplace."