Today is Equal Pay Day, and the National Women's Law Center is encouraging blogging and other activity in support of the cause. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 helps a great deal, and corrects an atrocious Supreme Court decision, as well as congressional opposition to the same bill in 2008. If you're not familiar with Lilly Ledbetter's story or have forgotten some of the details, Dahlia Lithwick wrote a great piece on the case and the congressional opposition almost exactly a year ago. And this video is the first of a series on Ledbetter from 2007:
I thought Lilly Ledbetter was one of the more inspiring speakers at the Democratic National Convention, although since it was early and short many people missed it. But this should not be a partisan issue. And it's admirable that Ledbetter has been working to ensure that others receive the fair treatment she was denied.
Equal pay should be a no-brainer. Pay should be based on merit, not gender, sex, race, sexuality, religion or anything similar. Jobs that are sometimes deemed "women's work" – teaching, social work, nursing – also tend to be undervalued and under-compensated. There's more that's needed to improve the American workplace, and some of them are society-wide measures. Card check for unions would help. So would decent, affordable child care, parental leave and universal health care (as one of my married-with-kids friends has often pointed out). It's no coincidence that countries with more women in government have enacted those before the U.S. has. There are many things we can do to make a more equitable, more pleasant, less distressful society, and equal pay is one of them.
(Cross-posted at Blue Herald)