Employers in Massachusetts will be barred from forcing prospective employees to divulge how much they were making at their last job. The change, effective in 2018, is part of a sweeping new equal pay measure Republican Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law on Aug. 1.
The law's goal is to prevent women from being stuck in a cycle of low salaries.
"What happens to people over time is if, in that first negotiation — or those first few jobs out of high school or college — you are underpaid, then you really get a snowball effect," says Victoria Budson, who directs the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and who advocated for the new law.
However, it does nothing to rectify what is at the core of sex discrimination in the workplace, and that is the concept of the "family wage."
The fact is it isn't enough for women to have equal pay. They need to have female dominated jobs recognized as being of equal value to similar work dominated by men. As long as a male dominated culture starves women in order to "encourage" them to marry by having a family wage system, little improvement will be seen in women's economic status. Women should be able to have lives independent of men and not have to prostitute themselves through marriage in order to have a roof over their heads.
Being a never-married straight woman in this society is an intensely political act, whether these women realize it or not.