And the wage gap is widest where you might not expect it. Women with a bachelor’s degree earn less than their male colleagues just one year out of college, with this disparity widening substantially 10 years after graduation.
We don’t charge women less tuition. Why should they earn less in their first year out of college despite comparable qualifications?
What message does this send to young girls growing up today? I would like to see my daughter, and the daughters of countless New Jersey families, enter the workforce knowing their work is valued through equitable compensation.
Clearly, one approach we can take to help all of our middle and working class families in New Jersey is addressing this $15.8 billion annual wage gap. Each dollar we reduce that gap is a dollar that goes to help our struggling families.
There are some people who say, “That’s just the market. We should just leave it alone. If we start trying to address this true injustice, we’ll end up burdening the economy with red tape.” I disagree. I say a rising tide lifts all boats.
New Jersey’s women make up over 50 percent of students in higher education. Women in our workforce are highly educated, hard-working, and integral members of our communities. Simply put, the devastating impact of this disparity on New Jersey’s economy demands that we tackle this challenge head-on.
Recently, the Assembly Women and Children Committee devoted its inaugural hearing to pay equity and the wage gap. As Chairwoman of this committee, I am committed to finding policy solutions to this problem and working to strengthen laws that support New Jersey’s women.
President Obama had it right—when we encourage and empower all of our citizens to succeed economically, our families and communities are strengthened.
Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden) chairs the Assembly Women and Children Committee in the New Jersey General Assembly