Wage Gap: Not Wide Enough for News

If meaning lies in media representation, we might as well toss the fight for equal pay in the trash.

The Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill initiated in 2012 to protect equal pay for women, was rejected for the fourth time in Congress this past Monday, September 15. To catch you up to speed, women in the United States earn an average 77 cents to every dollar a man makes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

What’s more concerning is the lack of coverage on the bill’s rejection. Have the NYT and WSJ decided the vote on this matter lacks luster the fourth time around? Both of these outlets carried articles surrounding the issue. The NYT tried to cover its bases: an article about Hillary focusing on domestic issues with a brief mention of women’s equal pay (though no mention of the bill), a few Op-Ed’s, one from the editorial board. And yet, the bill never made news sections. (Remember when Times executive editor Jill Abramson resigned because she wasn’t getting the same pay as her white male predecessor?)

There are several factors that contribute to the gap: women taking time off to raise their children, working part-time, creating their own work schedules, etc. These factors, however, do not excuse the practices of “discrimination, negotiating skills and networking over beers,” as NYT writer Claire Cain Miller puts it. The Paycheck Fairness Act would ensure discrimination did not exist. It would also require companies to make salary information public, creating a safeguard for employees who wish to request it.

In addition, the text of the bill states that “bona fide factors, such as education, training, or experience” are exceptions to “wage rate differentials” – NH Senator Ayotte (R) need not fret over any vanishing of merit-based pay. Though let it be known, the GOP makes other valid points against the bill.

This isn’t a political blog, I know. We gather here to look at culture, media and technology. Though bills are proposed, passed and rejected often, I believe some (cough cough, this one!) posit deeper meanings of our national psyche than others. What I mean to conclude is this: if our media disregards seemingly significant, characterizing actions of our government, which are in turn reflective of our culture, what news topics are receiving inordinate amounts of attention? Are we subconsciously assigning meaning to not-so-meaningful stories?

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Does anyone else think this failed bill is newsworthy?

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About kristinlafratta

Writer, creator, visionary.
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