Members of the American Association of University Women have worked tirelessly to close the gender pay gap once and for all. But we need additional legislation to give employers and employees the tools to prevent wage discrimination in the first place — and we’ve been waiting too long for that.
Why does South Carolina remain one of 4 states without equal-pay laws?
In 2015, S.C. women working full time earned only an average of 80 cents on the dollar to their male counterparts.
And for women of color, the gap is even wider. African-American women make 57 cents and Hispanic women 48 cents for every dollar a white man makes in South Carolina. This means less money to feed families, pay off student loans and save for retirement. It also leads to workplace dissatisfaction, low morale and higher turnover.
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With women holding only 14 percent of seats in the Legislature, it is perhaps not too surprising that we are one of only four states without equal pay protection.
Legislation prefiled in the House before the start of the 2015 session would make it illegal for a state agency to “discriminate against an employee on the basis of gender” by paying a woman less than a man for the same work. Yet H.3253 has languished in committee for more than a year.
This needs to change. Pay inequality is a pervasive problem that demands a multi-pronged solution. We need real protections to help S.C. women achieve full economic equality.
In 1913, early research by the American Association of University Women showed that women in civil service jobs in Washington earned just 78 percent of what men earned in the same position. Clearly, we have not come a long way, baby. If trends continue, women in South Carolina will not see equal pay until 2094.
Until Congresses passes the federal Paycheck Fairness Act, each state will continue operating under antiquated regulations and piecemeal state and local laws to combat unequal pay. So we urge the Legislature to improve S.C. equal pay laws to make fair pay a reality for everyone.
Greater Columbia AAUW