June 20, 2012

A Woman’s Worth

In 1920 the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified giving women the right to vote and it was unsuccessfully challenged a year later.  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin now has recent amendments including the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.
Today marks the 40th Anniversary of Title IX, The Education Amendments of 1972 another hallmark for girls and women across America. Meanwhile the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 3220), that would extend the reach of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Fair Labor Standards Act to close the gap male–female income disparity in the United States, has failed to pass the U.S. Senate. This is a story of generational as well generative progress. 
The Best Countries To Be A Woman — and the WorstNew York Times article describes Canada's successful top ranking for “... policy mix giving women access to health care and opportunities and protecting them against violence made it more egalitarian than some European nations and the United States.”
The June 2012 issue of JAMA features an original contribution from a group of researchers led by Dr. Reshma Jagsi on gender differences in the salaries of physicians who lead major NIH endeavors at leading medical institutions across the the United States.  The results indicate a $12,194 paycheck differential favoring men, a shortfall for women. These disparities are often characterized through comparisons in productivity, which some conclude is justifiable.  The roots of this dilemma should be considered more closely. While  negotiation skills are a must for women in the professional workforce, systemic  disparities should be examined and addressed.
It’s worth noting that women’s paychecks are more likely to support children and families. The remarkable rise of women through the ranks of business, academia or medicine has some common stumps that can be overcome with leadership and fortitude for the future.  Educational achievement as well as economic opportunity represent significant pathways for progress among girls and women.  Our success is the success of our nation with diversity and inclusion at it’s heart as well as prosperity.

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