Women's Economic Equity

May 10, 1985

Report Outline
Setting a New Course
Women at Work
Unfinished Agenda
Special Focus

Setting a New Course

Putting ERA Aside for Other Concerns

The equal rights amendment may have gone down to defeat nearly three years ago, but women's push for equal treatment at home, on the job and in American society did not die with the unsuccessful constitutional amendment. Much of the energy once channeled into the drive to ratify ERA has been redirected toward women's economic issues: equal pay for women and men who hold different jobs of “comparable worth”; reforms in Social Security, insurance and pension laws to eliminate discrimination based on sex; and parental leave for child care plus improved day care for children.

The overriding issue is economic equity. For every dollar earned by the average working man in the United States, the average working woman earns 64 cents, according to Census Bureau figures. This disparity has remained roughly the same for more than 60 years. It persists despite the spectacular influx of women in the work force in recent years. Over half, 53.7 percent, now work, compared with 43 percent in 1970. The wage gap also has defied 20 years of affirmative action policies designed to remove discriminatory barriers in education, hiring and promotion of women and minorities.

Younger, well-educated women are making professional and economic gains, but many women are still financially insecure. Poverty increasingly is a “women's issue.” Of 9.9 million families headed by women, 36 percent were below the poverty line in 1983, up from 30.4 percent in 1979. The comparable figure for married-couple families was just 7.6 percent. Among black and Hispanic families headed by women, the poverty rate was 53 percent in 1983, compared with 16 and 18 percent respectively for married-couple families.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Women and Work
Jul. 02, 2021  Women in the Workplace
Nov. 08, 2019  The Gender Pay Gap
Oct. 27, 2017  Workplace Sexual Harassment
Jul. 26, 2013  Women and Work
Apr. 14, 2006  Future of Feminism
Apr. 04, 2003  Mothers' Movement
Sep. 25, 1992  Women in the Military
May 10, 1985  Women's Economic Equity
Jul. 10, 1981  Women in the Military
Mar. 20, 1981  Equal Pay Fight
Jul. 04, 1980  Women in the Executive Suite
Jul. 13, 1979  Two-Income Families
Feb. 18, 1977  Women in the Work Force
Feb. 13, 1957  Woman's Place in the Economy
Apr. 22, 1944  Women Workers After the War
Jan. 26, 1942  Women in War Work
Jul. 13, 1926  Sex Equality and Protective Laws
Civil Rights: Women
Women in the Workplace