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Women's Equal Pay Day to Be Observed

April 08, 1999|ART MARROQUIN

Nationally, women earn 74 cents for every dollar men earn.

Locally, members of the San Fernando Valley Business and Professional Women will participate in the nationwide Equal Pay Day today with a breakfast at the Encino Community Center.

Equal Pay Day was launched to raise national awareness about the pay gap between men and women working in the same profession. It takes 15 months for women to earn what a man earns in 12 months, according to Equal Pay Day organizers. Today marks the day when women would earn what men earned in 1998.

"The public needs to be aware of this problem because it's a form of discrimination," said Jacqueline Melvin, Equal Pay Day event chairwoman for Valley women's group, one of 450 organizations across the nation holding special events today.

The wage gap tends to be widest in traditionally male-dominated professions, such as engineering and airline pilots. The difference in pay means fewer Social Security benefits for women, though they tend to live longer than men, Melvin said.

At the White House on Wednesday, President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton hosted a discussion on equal pay for women and possible changes to the Equal Pay Act.

Melvin said she's urging the 40 women in her group to write to congressional representatives and request changes in the Equal Pay Act.

"The work women do isn't valued by some companies," Melvin said. "Hopefully, days like this will catch the attention of lawmakers so legislation can be passed to ensure equality for men and women."

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