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Letter: Time for fair pay is long past

Tuesday April 9, 2013, is Equal Pay Day. It is observed in April to indicate how far into each year a woman must work to earn as much as a man earned in the previous year. Equal Pay Day is an unhappy marker of how far we have to go before we close the gender wage gap.

The gap hasn't budged in nearly a decade, leaving women and families continuing to suffer the effects of lost wages. Women currently, on average, earn 23 cents less per dollar of salary than men for equal work.

The pay gap can't be explained away by women's choices. The American Association of University Women hopes that through research and advocacy we can help employers understand the problem and implement measures to pay workers fair and honest wages.

Last October, AAUW released "Graduating to a Pay Gap: The Earnings of Women and Men One Year After College Graduation." The report explores the earnings difference between female and male college graduates working full time one year after graduation. The report, which uses the latest nationally representative data, compares apples to apples by looking at the pay gap after controlling for various factors known to affect earnings, such as occupation, college major, and hours worked. It also examines one immediate effect the pay gap has on many women: the heavy burden of student loan debt.

The report is clear -- the pay gap remains. It is time for the House of Representatives to take action and, after nearly six years of excuses, set those excuses aside to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act for equal pay for equal work.

Patricia Sween

Maplewood, Minn.

Patricia Sween is vice president of public policy, AAUW - Red Wing Area Branch.