It was a morning for celebration, hugs and cake Tuesday in the governor's office as veterans of the women's movement and representatives of government employees gathered to mark 30 years since Minnesota became the first state in the nation to promise its employees equal pay for work of equal value, regardless of a worker's gender.
Pay equity has been the law in state government since 1982 and in Minnesota local governments since 1984. But it's still elusive in the private sector. The latest studies say Minnesota women take home 80 cents for every dollar men earn.
A new push for the private sector to value and pay more for female-dominated work is due, said Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon, Tuesday's event host. Family wellbeing increasingly depends on their incomes.
"Thirty-five percent of women with at least one child in the home are also the primary breadwinners for their families," Prettner Solon said. "Overall, 45 percent of the income earned by the typical married couple in Minnesota is earned by a woman." Pay equity "ensures that Minnesota's children are fed every night, and that they have a warm bed to sleep in," she said.
Achieving equal pay for work of comparable worth in the private sector is unfinished business from the 20th century women's movement, along with reforming employment practices so that both men and women have the resources to provide for their own wellbeing and that of their families.
The baby boomers' kids are just now arriving in corporate America. Another wave of workplace change is coming.