Monday marked a major milestone for Kentucky women. It was 100 years ago that the state legislature ratified the 19th Amendment, which eventually led to full voting rights for all women when the ratification to the U.S. Constitution was completed on Aug. 18, 1920.
Nicknamed “The Susan B. Anthony Amendment” in honor of her work on behalf of women’s suffrage, the amendment states “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.”
In the century since its ratification, women have taken to both the sky and space, refused to give up their bus seats and otherwise asserted their rights as citizens. From Billie Jean King’s defeat of Bobby Riggs in straight sets in “The Battle of the Sexes” on the tennis court to Sandra Day O’Connor's becoming the first woman to serve in the U.S. Supreme Court, females have advocated for civil rights and equality of all Americans.
Despite all these advancements, women — who comprise nearly half of the workforce — still earn considerably less than men. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), in 2018 full-time, year-round female workers made 82 cents for every dollar earned by a man. That 18% gender wage gap equates to more than $10,000 per year in lost pay, reports the National Women’s Law Center. For women of color, the gap is even larger.
Equal pay was brought to the forefront again last year when U.S. Soccer star Megan Ripinoe and company raised the question after the team won the Women’s World Cup. The 32 men’s teams that participate in the World Cup divvy up a pool of $400 million versus the $30 million the 24 women’s teams split.
Despite the fact that the Equal Pay Act was signed into law in 1963, IWPR research shows that if pay equity change continues at the same slow pace it has for the past 50 years, it will take until 2059 for women to reach pay parity.
Now is the time to ensure that future generations of American women earn equal pay for equal work.