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To Combat Pay Discrimination, New Zealand Is Pursuing The Approach Of ‘Pay Equity’




Protesters display banners and palcards as they take part in an 'Equal Pay' rally through Sydney on June 10, 2010.
Protesters display banners and palcards as they take part in an 'Equal Pay' rally through Sydney on June 10, 2010.
Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images

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Earlier this month, a New Zealand law went into effect that will use the concept of “pay equity” to try to close the pay gap between men and women workers.

While many in the United States might be familiar with the term “equal pay,” which calls for equal pay for equal work, pay equity adopts a different tactical slant. Since many occupations are segregated by gender— think care workers, a labor pool which is composed of 75% women in the United States— pay equity advocates argue that a more meaningful metric to look at would be the types of work women do versus men, and how these types of work are often compensated less. In other words, it’s not simply “equal pay for equal work” but “equal pay for work of equal value,” or comparable worth. In the coronavirus pandemic, this dynamic has been thrown into sharp contrast. Over half of essential workers in the U.S. are women, many of them women of color, but their jobs are typically paid well below the median hourly wage. Although the concept of pay equity is over a century old, the movement— which gained steam in the 1970s and ‘80s in the U.S.— lost momentum before the new millennium. 

Today on AirTalk, we’re learning more about the history and contemporary implementation of pay equity. Do you have questions? Thoughts? We want to hear from you! Give us a call at 866-893-5722.

Guests:

Anna Louie Sussman, reporter covering gender and economics for various outlets, including the New York Times; she tweets @annalouiesuss

Heidi Hartmann, founder, president emerita and senior research economist at the Institute for Women's Policy Research; she tweets @HeidiatIWPR