Students and employees gathered in the main quadrangle of the campus on Tuesday, April 12, as Patrick A. Cecil, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, read a proclamation in support of pay equity for all people.
“Forty years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, women and people of color continue to suffer the consequences of inequitable pay differentials,” stated Cecil.
The event was coordinated by the Women’s Center at Louisville Seminary. Director Dr. Heather Theissen (MDiv ’00; ThM ’02) opened the brief public gathering in prayer and a statement about Pay Equity Day.
“Today is, as many know, Pay Equity Day: the day women’s earnings catch up with those of men’s — from the previous year. The reason Pay Equity Day isn’t December 31 — as it would be if women made, dollar for dollar, what men do — or even January 1 or second, as it would be if women made just about exactly what men do — is that women nationally earn just 77 cents for each dollar men earn. In Kentucky, the figure is a bit worse, 74 cents,” Thiessen reported.
Thiessen went on to say that women’s advocacy groups and
organizations have recognized this day to raise awareness about ongoing wage discrimination and the ways it affects women.
“The immediate effects, of course, are that women are more likely, than men, to be poor. The cumulative effects, however, are dramatic — including an estimated $900,000 – $1 million dollar impact on lifetime earnings that reduces pension and Social Security benefits and leaves older women living on smaller incomes on into retirement.”
“Pay equity is an issue for the church,” she said. “The church is called to raise a voice for justice, and this is a clear issue of justice. More concretely, the persistence of inequitable pay is a pervasive influence in the lives of congregations, as it is a pervasive influence in the lives of men and women in our world; it is one of the conditions that is presented in every one of the congregations in which women and men who are preparing for pastoral vocations will serve.”
The equity issue also affects pastors directly. Thiessen and Cecil shared that a Barna research study indicated that women pastors, on average, earn 93% of what men earn. “Sustainably better than the national average for women, but still noticeable,” Thiessen commented.
Among the 25 or so assembled at the center of the campus, donned in red to show support for the cause and to “celebrate the movement of the Holy Spirit,” Mr. Cecil read an official statement proclaiming April 12, 2011, “Equal Pay Day” at LPTS. The proclamation was framed with the Seminary’s seal affixed to it and later put on display in the lobby of Nelson Hall. It will hang permanently in the Women’s Center.