By Nyesha Stone
It’s 2018, and we have a day dedicated to celebrating and bringing awareness to equal pay. It’s 2018, and women are still being underpaid for the same work as men do. It’s 2018 and change needs to happen.
April 10 was Equal Pay Day, it was also the day Kelda Roys, candidate for governor of Wisconsin, held a press conference to shed more light on the day.
“Equal Pay Day, today, marks the day when women’s wages finally catch up to what men were earning in all of 2017,” said Roys. “Women have to work all the way till today, April 10, to earn what men did last year.”
Roys brought along with her four other women. They’re connected because they have a shared commitment to fighting for equality for women and closing the wage gap.
Norma Duckorh, Rebecca Clarke, Emily Siegrist and Chris Ralfe accompanied Roys to share their personal stories and why closing the wage gap matters to them, and why it should matter to everyone else.
“I wish I could say I’m happy to be here, but I am frustrated,” said Clarke, candidate for Wisconsin Assembly District 26. “Frustrated that we are still fighting for this issue here in Wisconsin.”
Clarke, just like the other women, is ready to close the wage gap, but the questions remain if the rest of the country is ready.
Siegrist, a candidate for Wisconsin Assembly District 24, started her speech by saying she’s 100% Mexican, which lead into how much Hispanics make compared to white non-Hispanic men. Hispanic women make .54 to every dollar a white man would make, said Siegrist.
“What does that mean? Well, that’s roughly $26,000 a year that Hispanic women are missing out on in lost wages,” she said.
According to Siegrist, that $26,000 is the equivalent to 193 weeks of food, 18 months of a mortgage and utilities, almost two years of apartment rent and three years of childcare.
This is the reason these women are speaking out. Women all over the country, and the world are suffering just because they’re not a man, and Ralfe, a candidate for Wisconsin Assembly District 60, says it has nothing to do with job occupation.
Ralfe has a long history of working in male-dominated fields, and back then she thought she would get paid the same since she received the same pay as her male counterparts while in the Navy. She soon found out that she was wrong. Ralfe was receiving 25% less than every other project manager at her job.
“I wondered if I was only 75% good as my male counterparts. I wondered if I even deserved to be in this male-dominated industry and I wondered if my co-workers knew I was making so much less and did they think less of me,” said Ralfe.
Many women have similar stories to these women, which is why they’re using their voices to speak out against these injustices.
“Some people may argue that the gender-pay gap is because of the occupations we choose as women, but that wasn’t the case. I was in a male-dominated industry and I was still paid less,” Ralfe said.
If Roys wins, she plans on bringing back the Equal Pay Act that Gov. Scott Walker repealed, she will fight for working families and more.
“Hopefully next year we won’t have to do this,” said Roys. “I’m going to tackle low wages, especially as it affects family security.”