Katie Jensen 07 currently faces this problem. She has worked at the same hotel for two years, first in housekeeping and then front desk, moving up to a manager position last summer. She recently learned that a male desk clerk who has worked at the hotel for six months is making 40 cents more per hour.
Isnt this illegal? Yes in 1972 the Equal Pay Act was passed, which states that both sexes must have equal pay for any same position. According to now.org, however, in 2004 females were still earning only 76 percent of what men made annually. With the law mandating equal treatment, how is it possible that a supervising long-term female employee still earns less than her male subordinate?
The Independent Womens Forum, a non-partisan feminist website, argues that it is "womens life and career choices that result in women earning less than men." According to the forum experts, women choose to work in low paying jobs such as education, clerical and social sciences. Customer service, however, is a low paying career that both men and women enter. So why is Jensens male subordinate earning more?
Diane LeBlanc, professor of womens studies, says Jensens work is devalued because of her gender. She explains, "Ending pay discrimination now demands more than laws about equal pay. Yes, those laws are absolutely valuable and necessary. But laws havent solved the larger problem of devaluing certain kinds of work and the people who do that work."
So how can women fight against this, especially with such a blatant case of discrimination as Jensens? Jensen intends to speak with her manager privately. If that does not resolve the matter, she will contact a civil lawyer and file a lawsuit. "I hate having to pull the gender card," she says, "because I feel like Im hiding behind that, but if I feel thats the actual reason, then they deserve to be called on it."
Staff writer Cassie Clark is a senior from Lakeville, Minn. She majors in English and in theatre.