Equal Pay for Equal Work

From no pay to the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to the World Cup pay controversy

Know Your Rights

Know Your Rights traces the origins of unequal pay from enslaved African-American women forced to work for no pay at all, to working women in the 1800s whose wages were the property of their husbands and fathers. Women’s labor strikes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries exposed unsafe sweatshops and unfair wages at 50% or less of men’s. President John F. Kennedy acknowledged that the landmark Equal Pay Act of 1963 was only a first step toward women’s full economic equality. Over fifty years later, we have yet to realize equal pay for equal work, and women — athletes to actors to executives — continue the fight.

Speaking Out

Women who entered the working world in the 1970s recall the shock and jealousy of their male colleagues. They Speak Out about the perception that a woman could not possibly deserve the same pay as a man; a woman could not possibly belong in a job where everyone else was a man. Women who raised questions were put in their place; women who took action were troublemakers. The 1963 Equal Pay Act changed the law, but the change in expectations took a lot longer.

Then and Now

Grandmothers, mothers, and daughters compare their experiences in the male-dominated world of work, Then and Now. Many women in the 1950s and 60s were expected to stay home and raise children; a working wife was a husband’s shame. Employers expected women in the 1970s and 80s to quit their jobs when they got married; nobody wanted a worker who might be pregnant. Women in the 21st century still have to work twice as hard as men to prove they’re worth the same pay as men; we’ve made tremendous progress, but not enough.