As part of our #WageWeek celebration, we have invited partners to contribute to our blog series on the importance of raising the minimum wage. This piece was written by Bronwen Wade with NC Women United. Previous entries in this series can be seen here and here.
Raising the minimum wage will help promote equal pay for women
By Bronwen Wade
Women earn just 79 cents for every dollar paid to men for the same job at the same level of experience. Raising the minimum wage will play an important role in achieving equal pay for women—and ensuring that our country adequately values the work they perform.
Policies combating gender discrimination in pay are important, but must be complemented by an increase in the minimum wage. The pay gap is a persistent problem when women enter traditionally male-dominated fields. However, the unjust minimum wage and its disproportionate effect on women reflect a country in which we do not value traditionally feminine labor.
Establishing a fair minimum wage has two goals. The first is to ensure that workers can meet their basic needs and have a good quality of life; the second is to create an equitable distribution of resources in our country. The real value of the minimum wage has dropped over the last 50 years while the real value of executive pay has grown exponentially. The current minimum wage supports an economic system where women workers and their families live in poverty at extremely high rates in order to subsidize higher pay for a smaller pool of mostly male executives.
Raising the minimum wage can help free women from a cycle of living paycheck-to-paycheck and being unable to invest in their future or provide for their children. It can also help break a tradition of distributing more of our economy’s resources to men and fewer of our resources to women of color and their families. Increasing the minimum wages is necessary both for improving women’s quality of life and for creating a more just economic system.
In the United States, poverty has increasingly become a women’s problem. Across every racial group, women are more likely to live in poverty than men. Most impoverished families are single working mothers of color with children, many of whom are working minimum wage jobs. The minimum wage does not provide enough income for these families to survive on; and Black and Latino women and children continue to bear the brunt of growing income inequality. Read more