Our view: We work hard for the money

Pay equity is about more than just men and women being equally compensated for the same amount and type of work.

Pay equity is not about catchy movie montages set to Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” or The Pointer Sisters’ “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves.”

And pay equity is certainly not only about doing the legal minimum to avoid discrimination lawsuits.

It’s about men and women – regardless of age, ethnicity, skin color or sexual orientation – being valued as equal members of society, who are rewarded for their contributions. It is about those contributions to our society or our economy being valued higher or lower not because they came from a man or a woman but because they are valuable in and of themselves.

Today is National Pay Equity Day. This is the day set aside each year to mark the point to which a woman would have to work in order to reach pay equity with a man. That means a woman, in order to have made as much as a man in the same position who worked all of 2008, would have had to work from January 2008 through today. That’s an extra four months a year, every year, over the course of a lifetime of work.

Although President Barack Obama helped the movement take a big step forward earlier this year by signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law, there are still wage battles to be won.

Most of us are here at Kent State because we have a career in mind. Maybe you want to be a doctor, lawyer or teacher. Maybe you’re here because you want to become a pilot or an inventor. Part of you probably hopes that your chosen job field will present you with an opportunity to change the world.

Another part of you recognizes the value of higher education in actually finding work that pays enough to keep you in the lifestyle you plan to have.

It’s simple math: A college education equals a chance at a better life and a higher-paying job.

Now, we’re not saying everyone should be paid the same across the board, regardless of skills or education. It’s hardly fair for someone who’s gotten the necessary training or has the innate skills to succeed to be paid the same as someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.

But for thousands of Americans – and maybe the person sitting next to you in class – walking across the M.A.C. Center stage on graduation day and receiving a piece of paper does not guarantee pay equity. Sometimes, it doesn’t even guarantee a shot at a job.

This isn’t just about equal pay for men and women. It’s about no one: Not your little brother or sister; your favorite gay or lesbian friend; your black cousin; your Asian brother-in-law; your girlfriend or boyfriend; your single parent who’s working two jobs so you can be here, and anyone else getting shafted just because their employer can get away with it.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.