Friedman stands up for gender equality, addresses wage gap

BOSTON – On Wednesday, Feb. 14, Senator Friedman and other members of the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators wore purple to stand in support of the Legislators for Gender Equality Movement.

Created and organized by Zoe Laboy Alvarado, Senator at Large for Puerto Rico, the movement is to encourage legislators to take a stand for gender equality in all facets of life. Currently, there are 50 women serving in the Massachusetts legislature – representing 25% of elected seats. In contrast, only 14 women are serving in the Puerto Rico legislature that has a total of 78 seats.

“In the 387-year history of the Massachusetts General Court, over 20,000 men have been elected as lawmakers compared to only 196 women,” Senator Friedman explained. “Today is a serious reminder that we have to continue to push for equal opportunity for women throughout the Commonwealth and across our nation so that all women have an equal shot at success.”

According to the 2017 World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report, gender parity is shifting in reverse since the organization started measuring it. The study measures relative gaps between women and men in health, education, economy and politics. The United States ranked 49, moving down four spots compared to the previous year.

Additionally, women around the world and throughout the United States struggle to earn wages that are equal to their male counterparts and secure high management positions.

In Massachusetts, the median annual pay for a woman who holds a full-time, year-round job is $50,459, while median annual pay for a man who holds a full-time, year-round job is $61,611. This means that women are paid 82 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to an annual wage gap of $11,152.

The wage gap can be even larger for women of color. Among women who hold full-time year-round jobs: Asian women are paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, African American women are paid 61 cents, and Latinas are paid 50 cents.

These gaps persist across our entire state. On average, women who are employed full-time lose a combined total of more than $11 billion every year due to the wage gap.

“It’s 2018 and women still do not earn the same amount of money as men for doing the same work,” said Friedman. “We have to change that, and one way we can begin to address this issue is by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.”

Friedman is the lead sponsor of the “Fight for $15” initiative in the state Senate. Her bill (S.1004) would raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2021.

Other states and territories joining Massachusetts and Puerto Rico in the Legislators for the Gender Equality movement include: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delware, District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming and the Virgin Islands.