Monday, December 13, 2010

Top 10 “Made in Dagenham” Equal Pay

(A preview of this movie inspired my research and my curiosity.)

1. Dagenham? Where is it? Dagenham is located in the United Kingdom. It is the home of Ford of Europe, subsidiary of the Ford Motor Company. In 1968, the Ford sewing machinist’s strike of 1968 was a landmark labor-relations dispute in the United Kingdom. It ultimately led to the passing of the Equal Pay Act in 1970, the first legislation in the UK aimed at ending pay discrimination between men and women.

2. In 1963, Congress passed the Equal Pay Act (EPA) as an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act, in the United States to "prohibit discrimination on account of sex in the payment of wages by employers." It was signed into law by President John Kennedy on June 10th, 1963.

3. The Equal Pay Act, Section 206(d)(1), prohibits "employers from discriminating on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees at a rate less than the rate paid to employees of the opposite sex for equal work on jobs requiring equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions."

4. The Equal Pay Act was "the first step towards an adjustment of balance in pay for women.”.

5. First, the same 88th Congress enacted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. By including sex as an element protected from discrimination, Title VII expanded the protection of women from employment discrimination, to include almost all employees working for employers with fifteen or more employees.

6. Second, Congress expanded the EPA’s coverage to professionals and other white collar employees. For the first nine years of the EPA, the requirement of equal pay for equal work did not extend to persons employed in an executive, administrative or professional capacity, or as an outside salesman. Therefore, the EPA exempted white collar women from the protection of equal pay for equal work.

7. The Equal Pay Act is part of the same legislative structure that houses the federal minimum wage laws. The EPA acts as a wage equalizer between men and women for equal jobs, and has the potential of acting as a price floor on the salaries of men or women for particular jobs.

8. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women’s salaries compared with men’s have risen dramatically since the EPA’s enactment, from 62% of men’s earnings in 1970 to 80% in 2009. Nonetheless, the Equal Pay Act’s equal pay for equal work goals has not been completely achieved, as demonstrated by the BLS data.

9. .Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton first introduced the “Paycheck Fairness Act” on April 20, 2005, which, among other provisions, proposes to amend the Equal Pay Act’s fourth affirmative defense to permit only bona fide factors other than sex that are job-related or serve a legitimate business interest. Representative Rosa DeLauro first introduced an identical bill in the House of Representatives on the same day.

10. On January 29, 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which overturned the holding of a Supreme Court case, Ledbetter v. Goodyear, regarding the applicable statute of limitations. This bill, providing that each gender-unequal paycheck is a new violation of the law. It was the first signing of the Obama Presidency and came almost forty-five years after the Equal Pay Act.

Although many women hold high executive positions, the majority of women’s roles are in support positions; perhaps the full financial benefit will come soon.

Go see the movie “Made in Dagenham”. My favorite line in the movie was when a reporter asked the lead speaker for the women’s sewing machinist’s, How will you deal with it, if the decision does not go in your favor?, she responded, Deal with it? We are women. Contrary to popular belief, women can cope and lead. The movie may not receive any Academy Award nominations but it should. The women’s roles were excellently portrayed and it’s a great story.

Information found at Wikipedia and the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics websites.


  1. I believe you did good decision when you selected this subject of this article here. Do you as a rule write your blog entries by yourself or you work with a partner or even an assistant?

    1. Thank you. I write, research and experience all lists with the exception of the guest blogs which are stated at the beginning of the blog. It is a shame that movie did not get much play. It told the story of a pivotal time in history for equal rights and pay for women. Still gaps in that though but it has come a long way.