During the lunch hour Tuesday, a crowd gathered at Market Square in downtown Pittsburgh to mark Equal Payday. It’s a day on which rallies are held across the country to bring attention to the fact that women still make less money than men.
“The Pittsburgh area is just slightly lower than the national average," said Tara Simmons, vice president of the Women and Girls Foundation. "The national average is around 80 to 81 cents on the dollar. Pittsburgh is at 77 cents. The alarming statistic for me is that for African American and Latina women in our region, that number is more like 68 cents on the dollar.”
Equal Payday is held each year, this year on April 9, because it symbolized how far into 2013 women had to work to earn the same amount male counterparts earned in 2012. Simmons said that while it’s become an annual event, many people are still confused about the equal pay issue.
“They think it means that women work in daycares or they work in fast food and men are brain surgeons,” she said. “But what we’re saying is a woman who works at McDonald’s with the same level of experience as a man who works at McDonald’s with the same level of experience. A female brain surgeon versus a male brain surgeon with the same socio-economic background and same education are not making equal pay.”
Several speakers highlighted the equal pay issue, including Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner. WGF’s Simmons said that the good news is women’s wages are starting to catch up, but she that added progress is slow-going.
“It’s just sad that in 2013 the Women and Girls Foundation and our community partners are still having this conversation,” she said. “I hope that by the time my own daughter is an adult we won’t be having these conversations anymore.”