Eighth grader Maya Chandra’s essay, “Destroying the Wage Gap,” won a silver medal in the critical essay category of the 2017 National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Below are some excerpts from the essay, which discusses the gap between the wages of American men and women.

“Women in all different industries from all over the United States are demanding equal pay. Despite what some think, there is a wage gap, and it is very real. In the United States, a woman working full-time earns 79 cents for every dollar a man working full-time earns (“Understand the Basics”). For years, female workers have been making less money than men, creating an undeniable wage gap. While this difference in pay has been decreasing over time, women are not projected to receive equal pay for many more years (Hartmann). Female workers have faced this discrimination long enough and must be treated equally. Equal pay will reduce poverty, add to the economy, and make the workplace equitable. By raising awareness of unequal pay and nudging companies in the right direction with laws and regulations, we can work towards ending the wage gap.”

“There have been many legislative attempts to address the issue of the wage gap. For example, in 1947, Secretary of Labor Lewis Schwellenbach tried to pass equal pay for the private sector, but was unsuccessful (Alter). Sixteen years later, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 was passed, stating that no employer or company “shall discriminate… between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work…” (“The Equal Pay Act of 1963”). In essence, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 illegalizes unequal pay based on gender. This was powerful legislation, but sadly, the wage gap still lived on. More recently, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This bill states that the 180-day time period to file a lawsuit about pay discrimination resets after each new paycheck. This makes it less complicated for people to contest unequal pay (Slack).”

“Additionally, there are many economic benefits of equal pay. If women are paid the same amount as men, poverty would be lessened. The poverty of working women living alone and with families would be cut in half, as, on average, every woman would make $6,251 more with equal pay (Hartmann). Among all working women, the poverty rate would drop from 8.1 percent to 3.9 percent. For working single mothers, it would drop from 28.7 percent to 15.0 percent. With working women living alone, it would drop from 11.0 percent to 4.6 percent (“How Equal Pay for Working Women Would Reduce Poverty and Grow the American Economy”).”

“Women deserve equal pay. For so many years, women have been considered “less” than men for absolutely no reason. Women work just as hard as men do, so they should be paid just as much. If America is considered the land of equal opportunity, why is 47 percent of the work force (“Women by the Numbers”) not being given the same salaries as their male counterparts? It is unjust and unfair that the wage gap still exists in our country.”

Check out theperennial.org for a full works cited page.

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