Equal Time for Betty the Bricklayer  

I got this from Hard Hatted Women today and I wanted to share it.

Much ado about the oft mentioned Joe the Plumber adorned the last presidential debate and subsequent news media. Blatantly absent from the conversion is the mention of Betty the Bricklayer and the women she might represent. Unfortunately, there just aren’t that many women working in the skilled trades, such Joe, as a plumber, pipefitter or heavy equipment operator. In fact, nationally, women represent only 4% of the skilled trades, which provide family-sustaining wages, healthcare and pensions, especially when they are union jobs. Instead, women continue to work predominately in sectors still considered traditional “women’s work” – such as those in the service sector and childcare, making just minimum wage and often without benefits. In an average work lifetime a woman working in a career considered “nontraditional” such as that of a plumber will earn $1 million dollars more than a woman working as a childcare worker.

This is important to understand because women continue to be disproportionately impacted by poverty. According to the most recent U.S. Census, in Cleveland 53 % of households headed by women live in poverty and for women of color that number rises to 68%. Additionally, women are often excluded from these jobs opportunities because of discrimination and lack of access to training. While not every woman wants to be a bricklayer or a plumber, she should be provided the choice. And when she does not opt for those careers, she should not be expected to work for less than her male counterparts. Despite years of outcry and activism, women still continue to earn less than their male counterparts for the same work. Studies show that women, on average, earn 77 cents for each dollar earned by a man.

Recently, a woman named Lilly Ledbetter has been criss-crossing the nation to raise awareness about pay equity. Lilly is now retired but has said how important it is to remedy this for our daughters and granddaughters. Lilly sued Good Year Tire and Rubber when she discovered the company had discriminated against her for decades by paying her male counterparts, even those less qualified and less senior higher wages. Lilly was awarded $3.8 million dollars by a jury of her peers for this violation of her civil rights under Title VII. Yet somehow the Supreme Court overturned the ruling stating Ledbetter did not act in a timely fashion. Lilly sued upon the discovery yet somehow the Supreme Court determined she was negligent in not knowing about the discrimination from her first paycheck.

In the spring, legislation bearing this courageous woman’s name will go once again before the United States Senate for a vote. Lilly was mentioned by name only once during the last presidential debate and there was no follow-up discussion on how that legislation or the continued disparity between women’s wages and men’s impacts our families, our communities and our nation again. Putting choices in the hands of women and girls provides equality. Ensuring equal pay for equal work can mean the difference between remaining in poverty or being lifted out of it.

Kelly M. Kupcak
Director of Policy
Hard Hatted Women
216-861-6500, ext. 203

Thanks Kelly and Hard Hatted Women. I wish there was a similar organization in every state and territory. It's time women were better represented in the TRADES.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button


Post a Comment