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A decade ago, on Jan. 29, 2009, newly inaugurated President Barack Obama signed his first bill into law: the
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009

十年前,2009年1月29日,新上任的美国总统巴拉克·奥巴马签署了他的第一个法案:《莉莉·莱德贝特2009年公平薪酬法案》。

It was the latest legislative effort to close the persistently stubborn gap between how much women and men earn. At the time, a level that hadn’t improved all that much since the 1990s, according to Census data.

这是最新的立法努力,以缩小男女收入之间存在的顽固差距。但根据人口普查的数据,自上世纪90年代以来,这一水平并没有得到太大的改善。

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The case was appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, which in 2007 ruled 5-4 that employees must file a complaint within 180 days after their employer makes a pay decision. The fact that the discrimination was embedded in each paycheck and that Ledbetter didn’t know of the disparity for many years did not matter. Time had run out on her claim.

这起案件一直上诉到最高法院,最高法院在2007年以5:4的裁决要求雇员必须在雇主作出薪酬决定后180天内提出申诉。事实上,这种歧视根植于每一份工资中,莱德贝特多年来都不知道这种差异,但这并不重要。她索赔的时间已经不多了。

read from the bench, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted that the ruling denied workplace realities. She pointed out that since employees often lack information about pay disparities, which can accumulate slowly over time, they shouldn’t be given such a narrow window in which to file a complaint.

大法官露丝·巴德·金斯伯格(Ruth Bader Ginsburg)在法庭上宣读了这一判决,她指出,这一裁决否定了工作场所的现实情况。她指出,由于员工往往缺乏有关薪酬差距的信息,而这些信息会随着时间的推移慢慢积累,因此不应该给他们这么短的时间来投诉。

Ultimately, the 111th Congress and President Obama agreed with Justice Ginsburg and nullified the decision. It makes clear that the statute of limitations for filing a wage discrimination claim resets with each discriminatory paycheck.

最终,第111届国会和奥巴马总统同意金斯伯格大法官的意见,废除了这一决定。明确提出工资歧视索赔的诉讼时效随每一份歧视性工资而重置。

A disappointing impact

然而,这项法律的影响令人失望。

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And for women of color, the gap is even starker. Latinas earn 52 cents to the dollar of white men, while African-American women earn just 61 cents. Within racial groups, a pay gap between men and women persists, although it is narrower.

对于有色人种的女性来说,差距更大。白人男性每赚1美元,拉丁裔女性只有52美分,而非裔美国女性也仅为61美分。在种族群体中,男女之间的收入差距虽然缩小了,但仍然存在。

A stubborn gap
The gap between what women and men earn has barely budged in recent decades. Currently, women earn about 80 percent of what men make.

顽固的差距:
近几十年来,男女收入的差距几乎没有变化。目前,女性的收入约为男性的80%。

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These statutory interpretations may sound technical, but they matter. They help explain why the gap appears stuck at 80 cents and why some estimate it’ll be at least until 2059 until pay equity in the United States is reached.

这些法定解释听起来可能是技术性的,但它们很重要。它们有助于解释为什么差距似乎停留在80美分,以及为什么一些人估计至少要到2059年美国的薪酬公平才能实现。

Why it persists
Another reason the gap is so stubborn is that men and women are steered into different occupations, and male-dominated occupations pay more for comparable work.

为什么差距仍然存在:
这种差距如此顽固的另一个原因是,男性和女性被引导进入不同的职业,男性主导的职业为类似的工作支付更高的工资。

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And so-called “choices” cannot explain why female recent college graduates are paid 82 percent of their male counterparts or why the gap widens at the top. Professional women with advanced degrees who work full-time face a gender gap of 74 percent.

而所谓的“选择”也无法解释为什么最近大学毕业的女性薪酬是男性同事的82%,也无法解释为什么在高层的差距会扩大。拥有高学历的全职职业女性面临74%的性别差异。

Closing the gender gap
Closing the gender pay gap is not rocket science – even though recently graduated female rocket scientists earn 89 cents on the dollar to their male peers.

缩小性别差距:
缩小性别薪酬差距并不是什么高难度的科学——尽管最近毕业的女性科学家的薪酬仅为男性的89%。

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The economic gains from closing the gender pay gap are huge. Doing so would add about $513 billion to the economy because of the extra income generated, reduce poverty and do a lot to support American families since mothers are the sole or primary breadwinners in about half of them.

缩小性别薪酬差距所带来的经济效益是巨大的。这样做将为经济增加约5130亿美元的额外收入,减少贫困,并为美国家庭提供大量支持,因为母亲是大约一半家庭的唯一或主要经济支柱。

Passing the Lilly Ledbetter Act was a start, and now we owe it to American workers to enact laws that close the gap once and for all.

通过《莉莉·莱德贝特法案》这样一个开端,现在我们欠美国工人一个责任。要制定法律,一劳永逸地缩小这一差距。