Male Colleague’s Pay Given “Family” Boost over a Mother’s PayJune 05, 2014
In her first job out of graduate school, Eileen deHaro was paid less than a male colleague because he had a family. Yet so did she.
DeHaro, who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology, helped train this man, who had a bachelor’s in English and a master’s in biology, to do her same job in a university lab. She learned through a conversation with him that he earned 20 percent more than she did. DeHaro took this information to her boss and asked why. She said he told her, “Because he’s a man. He has a family.”
At that time, deHaro said she didn’t consider herself a feminist or an activist, but she was quick to point out the blatant — and illegal — discrimination.
“I said, ‘He has a wife and a dog. I have a husband and a son. Is my son worth less than his dog?’” deHaro recalled.
Though deHaro was able to force her employer to pay her equally, she still lost out on wages she deserved for the time she was underpaid. Her experience is shared by mothers nationwide. It takes almost an extra six months — or until June 12 in 2014 — for working mothers’ wages to catch up with working fathers’ wages from the previous year. Working mothers typically are paid 69 cents for every dollar working fathers are paid.
DeHaro’s story happened in 1974. The legislation to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, was in place then and has not been updated since.
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“If the Equal Pay Act was sufficient, then I should not have been discriminated against,” she said.
Research shows that women in the workforce are penalized for having children. Mothers earn less than women who don’t have children, even when they work full time. But fathers typically earn more than men who don’t have children.
“That episode turned me into a feminist — only I didn’t realize that was the name then,” deHaro said. “It made me more attuned to the fact that there was discrimination. I was hit with blatant inequity. I’ve become quite outspoken since.”
DeHaro is active with AAUW and works to pass equal pay legislation in her state, Louisiana. At the national level, AAUW is working to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would help close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and provide protection from retaliation for employees who discuss their salaries, just like deHaro did.
Eileen is just one of many mothers who have experienced the pay gap. Read Melissa’s story.