Last week, the National Organization for Women held a bake sale, but it wasn’t all cupcakes and cookies. The event was meant to raise awareness for Equal Pay Day, so the prices were dependent upon race and gender.
Equal pay is still an issue in the workplace and often seems to be an issue for no apparent reason. At the bake sale, prices were broken down in relation to average salaries according to whatever race individuals identified with. Caucasian males were expected to pay a full dollar. Asian men were charged slightly more and African-American and Hispanic men were charged slightly less. The scale was similar for women. Caucasian females were charged about $0.77, Asian women slightly more and African and Hispanic women slightly less.
At first this idea seemed appalling and backwards, but the more I thought about it, unequal pay seemed more unjust than the bake sale that pointed it out. We live in a country full of opportunity, yet we place different values on the skills people possess based on skin-deep qualities.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics gauged weekly earnings from 2012 based on race. They found that, on average, Caucasian men made about $879 per week while Caucasian women made about $710. African-American men made $665 while African-American women made $599. Asian men made a whopping $1,055 and Asian women made $770, creating the largest gap between men and women’s earnings when broken down into race. Lastly Hispanic men made $592 weekly on average while Hispanic women made $521.
Why would a woman holding the same position as a man be worth less? Why would a Caucasian be paid more than a Hispanic? This whole system of varying salaries seems more complicated than the trouble it causes. If companies set wages for their employees, then planning for expenses and hiring would be more efficient. Different salaries based on anything but merit and ability means that higher-ups are going out of their way to pay people more for shallow reasons.
Aside from unequal pay among gender and race, there is a discrepancy among job titles. CEOs at national banks are rolling in the deep while public school teachers are severely underpaid. Both job positions are important. Both positions require college degrees. So why such a huge difference in pay? Teachers are responsible for shaping young minds that will become anything from accountants to novelists and deserve pay that reflects this.
Obviously there are different levels of employment. Someone working part-time at a fast food restaurant will never make as much as someone doing research for NASA. However, a Hispanic woman and an Asian man working as part time cashiers should make the same while a Caucasian female and an African-American male should make the same doing research together for NASA.
So, in short, I applaud the National Organization for Women for bringing awareness to UTSA. This should make people upset and want to take action that makes the workplace fair and balanced.