Congressional District 11 - Contra Costa County - has the third worst gender pay gap of all Congressional Districts in the state. Here are the stats and what can be done about it.
In "The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap" the American Association of University Women report (Fall 2016) documents the gender pay gap in our society and proposes solutions.
In 2015, women working full time in the United States were paid just 80 percent of what men were paid, a gap of 20 percent. In California, women make 86% of men’s pay, a 14% gap.
As noted in the AAUW report, "the gender pay gap has lifelong financial effects. For one, it contributes directly to women’s poverty. In 2015, 14 percent of American women ages 18–64 were living below the federal poverty level, compared with 11 percent of men. For ages 65 and older, 10 percent of women and 7 percent of men were living in poverty (Proctor et al., 2016). Eliminating the gender pay gap by increasing women’s levels of pay to those of their male counterparts could cut the poverty rate for working women in half (Hartmann et al., 2014)."
Even after women leave the workforce, the pay gap follows them. Because women typically are paid less than men during working years, when women retire they receive less income from Social Security, pensions, and other sources than do retired men (Fischer & Hayes, 2013). Other benefits such as disability and life insurance are also smaller for women, because these benefits usually are based on earnings.
The impact of the pay gap has deepened in recent years as a result of changes in family structure. Between 1967 and 2012, the proportion of mothers bringing home at least a quarter of the family’s earnings rose from less than a third (28 percent) to nearly two-thirds (63 percent). Today, 40 percent of mothers with children under the age of 18 are their families’ primary or sole breadwinners (Glynn, 2014). As families increasingly rely on women’s wages to make ends meet, the gender pay gap directly affects men and children as well.”
What constructive steps can be taken to eliminate the pay gap? An important step that you can take is to request your Congressional representative work to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act which has come close to passage twice in the past seven years. It is under consideration by the 114th Congress (H.R. 1619 S.862). This detailed analysis explains what the Act would accomplish and how it relates historically to other legislation.
Other actions you can take to work toward correcting gender pay injustice are given in the AAUW report pages 21-28, “How Can I Make a Difference."