With the passage of the 19th Amendment on August 26, 1920, women in the United States gained the right to vote in national elections; however, the gender gap remains wide even in the 21st Century. According to the GAO, women account for 46% of the labor force, but 59% of women are making less than $8 an hour. The Center for American Progress reported that women “are only 14.6 percent of executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners, and 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs.” And even though they comprise the majority of the labor force in the financial services and health care industries, not a single woman in these fields is head honcho of her company.
To make sure our efforts do not go unnoticed by the Nevada Legislature, Nevada Women's Lobby (NWL) observes Equal Pay Day in April during each legislative session to remind legislators the length of time during the new calendar year that the average American woman would have to work to earn the same amount as the average American man worked during the previous year. According the recent information from the White House, women have to work approximately 60 extra days to earn what men did during the previous year.
Even though Nevada is considered one of the better states for income inequality, women here still only make about 75 percent of what their male counterparts make so we have a long way to go. For more than two decades, NWL has worked to educate elected officials and the community on the importance of women’s equality. Fortunately, Nevada has benefitted from legislative champions on this issue. In the 2015 legislature, both Senator Pat Spearman and Assemblywoman Teresa Benetiz-Thompson sponsored legislation would have enacted equal pay for equal work here in our state. Unfortunately, both measures were defeated in committee. Senator Pat Spearman also sponsored ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Nevada is one of the remaining states that have not yet adopted this important constitutional amendment.
The Fight Continues
Despite our legislative setback in 2015, NWL is again working with key legislators to continue our efforts for full equality for women.
We know that there is strength in numbers. Consequently, we have joined forces with AAUW NV, AAUW Reno, AAUW Capitol, PLAN, Planned Parenthood, WOW and the Nevada League of Women to form the Coalition for Women’s Equity to continue to advocate and build public support for passage of pay equity legislation in the 2017 session.