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Report of the National Conference

March 31 and April 1, 1952

Bulletin of the VFomen's Bureau, No. 243

Maurice J. Tobin, Secretary

Frieda S. Miller, Director

Washington : 1952

United States Government Printing Office, Washington: 1952
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U. S. Government Printing Office
Washington 25, D. C. - Price 15 cents

United States Department



Women’s Bureau,

Washington, August 29, 1952.
I have the honor of transmitting a report on the National
Conference on Equal Pay held by the Women’s Bureau on March 31
and April 1, 1952. The conference brought together about 100 men
and women representative of national women’s organizations, trade
unions, employer associations, civic groups, and administrators of
State equal-pay laws.
This report is being published because of the request of the con­
ference body to make the information presented at the meetings avail­
able for public use.
Conference plans were developed and implemented under my direc­
tion by Mrs. Adelia B. Kloak, Chief of the Special Services and
Publications Division of the Bureau and the report written by Mrs.
Helen J. Robison.
Respectfully submitted.
Frieda S. Milker, Director.
Hon. Maurice J. Tobin,
Secretary of Labor.



Foreword, Frieda S. Miller ______
Purpose of the conference___________ _____ ___________
Facts on equal pay leading up to the conference
Program of the conference
Opening address: Equal pay—Present reality or future dream,
Hon. Maurice J. Tobin_____________
Keynote address, Arthur S. Flemming __________________
Equal pay—What are the facts? Dorothy S. Brady___ __
Report of Committee on Findings (with addendum)_______
Summary of conference discussion____
. _ ____________
Notes from the field
Participants in National Conference on Equal Pay_____



Sponsored by the Women’s Bureau of the United States Department
of Labor, a National Conference on Equal Pay was held in Washing­
ton, D. C., on March 31 and April 1, 1952. The conference had been
suggested by the Women’s Advisory Committee on Defense Manpower
at its meeting on November 13, 1951. The committee recommended
that “the Women’s Bureau explore the possibility of sponsoring a
meeting of organizations interested in the question of equal pay for
comparable work for the purpose of considering equal-pay problems
and that the Bureau call such a meeting if desirable.”
A program for the conference -was developed with the aid of a 15member planning committee. It represented a variety of groups
having an active interest in equal pay, and assured participation of
these groups in the subsequent conference.
It was determined through committee consultations that this was
to be a “working conference.” Conference members were selected so
as to assure a diversity of viewpoints and a great variety of experience.
They reflected the thinking of trade unions, management groups,
women’s organizations. They came as workers, employers, State and
Federal administrators, church groups, and writers. They hailed
from all sections of the country.
The reports which were made to the conference by many of the
participants gave evidence of progress, slow progress to be sure, on
all fronts.
Testifying to how seriously the problem affects women personally
as well as the economic health of the country, Maurice J. Tobin, Sec­
retary of Labor, opened the conference. The keynote presentation
by Arthur S. Flemming, Assistant to the Director (Manpower), Office
of Defense Mobilization, emphasized the need for industry to train
and upgrade women in particular skills and categories now, when the
urgency of the mobilization effort calls for all available manpower and
its fullest utilization. Dorothy S. Brady, Bureau of Labor Statistics,
presented a penetrating analysis of the relationship of women’s earn­
ings to men’s at the present time.
A panel of distinguished speakers offered their views as to -ways
of strengthening women’s status as workers.
There was a clear and fair interchange of ideas. Conference mem­
bers were not all in agreement on method. The weaknesses in some of
the programs were recognized; opposing viewpoints were freely ex­
pressed. But the conference ended with purpose renewed and
sharpened to strive for equal pay.
Frieda S. Miller,
Director, Women’s Bureau.




National Conference



Equal Pay

(Left to right) Frieda S. Miller, Director of the Women’s Bureau; Hon.

Maurice J. Tobin, Secretary of Labor; Mrs. Mary T. Norton, Vice
Chairman, Women’s Advisory Committee on Defense Manpower.

Purpose of the Conference
To bring together, as individuals (not as representatives author­
ized to commit their organizations), persons associated with
agencies and organizations that have an active concern with equal
pay in the United States for the purpose of:
1. A presentation of their experience and objectives;
2. A full discussion of problems and potentials raised
by such presentation and of suggestions for improved
3. A statement of areas of agreement and of points of



Facts on Equal Pay, Leading Up to the
The fight, for equal pay, i. e., “the rate for the job without regard
to sex” lacks the glamor of the battles waged in the United States by
the feminists earlier in the century wdiich finally won women the vote.
No “equal pay” parade has yet taken place. No newspaper has re­
ported a single brick thrown through a window, nor the name of one
woman worker willingly dragged off for a night in prison to drama­
tize economic injustice to women.
Yet the equal-pay idea is as old as the concept of justice. It is not
a new program for the Women’s Bureau, which has earnestly worked
for the general adoption of the practice over the years. Official and
private agencies responsible for determining basic wage policies sup­
port the principle. Nevertheless, it is a fact that, in spite of an­
nounced acceptance of equal-pay principles by virtually all leading
elements in public and private life, many women are paid less than
men when performing comparable work.
This is not only costly to the millions of working women, but is a
serious drag on the earnings of men and a continuing threat to the
health of the total economy. In 1910 only 7,788,826 women were in
the labor force. Occupational classifications of that day group these
women as follows: 25 percent household employees, 28 percent semi­
skilled workers, 16 percent farm laborers, and 14 percent clerks. It
was, of course, important to the economy then that these almost 8 mil­
lion women workers should receive equal pay for comparable work,
but the records—or lack of them—indicate that the matter was given
little attention.
Now, however, with nearly 19 million women workers, almost a
third, that is, of the labor force in the United States, it is a matter of
grave concern and more should and will be heard of a rate for the job
without regard to sex. If we have learned anything from the dis­




turbed business cycles of the past two or three decades it is that a high
living standard and prosperous business conditions cannot exist if the
worker cannot buy the products of his or her labor. Yet if large num­
bers of women can be hired at less than the prevailing rates for men
their competition is likely to result either in the displacement of the
men, or in men’s acceptance of lower rates. The eventual result is
reduced purchasing power and lower standards of living for all
These are the broad economic facts faced by the Equal Pay Con­
ference, of which the following pages provide a report. At this point,
some paragraphs devoted to a summary of the background material,
familiar to all members of the conference, but perhaps unknown to
new students, may prove useful.

State Policy
Montana and Michigan, pioneers in equal-pay legislation, passed
the first laws applying to private employment in 1919. Now, Alaska
and 13 States have equal-pay laws: California, Connecticut, Illinois,
Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New
Jersey (passed in 1952), New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and
Washington. This is progress. The laws vary widely in coverage.
The laws of Illinois and Michigan are limited to manufacturing;
those of other States are generally applicable to most types of private
employment. The majority of State laws provide for employee suits
to recover differences in wages which may be due because of sex dis­
Sixteen States and the District of Columbia have laws requiring
that men and women teachers receive the same compensation for com­
parable services. About half of the States have civil-service systems
generally applicable to all branches of the State government. In such
systems it is customary to set a rate for the job irrespective of sex.

Federal Policy
No Federal equal-pay law has as yet been enacted. An equal-pay
bill was introduced for the first time in the Seventy-ninth Congress
in 1945, and similar bills have been introduced in each succeeding
For its own civil-service employees the Federal Government has long
given support to the principle of “a rate for the job irrespective of
sex.” The greatest single impetus to the equal-pay movement was
given by the Classification Act of 1923, which established a uniform
salary for each specified grade and class of work. Thus the com­
pensation attaching to hundreds of thousands of civil-service posi­
tions was based on job content and qualifications irrespective of the



sex of the worker. This principle was reaffirmed in the Classification
Act of 1949. The Department of Defense has reaffirmed the equal-pay
policy for women, established by the Army and Navy Departments
in World War II, which provides for equal pay for production work­
ers in installations of the Armed Forces.

International Labor Organization Action
The United States is not alone in the equal-pay movement. The In­
ternational Labor Organization has vigorously supported the princi­
ple of equal pay for more than 30 years. In June 1951 the ILO
adopted an Equal Remuneration Convention and a Supplemental
Recommendation. Ratifying countries are given the choice of any of
the following methods of implementing an equal-pay policy: (1) Col­
lective-bargaining agreements between employers and workers; (2)
legally established or recognized machinery for wage determination;
(3) national laws or regulations; (4) a combination of these various
means. In the United States the Convention and the Recommenda­
tion wi II be referred by the Secretary of Labor to the Governors of
the separate States and Territories for appropriate action.

Administrative Action
Federal administrative action directed to the establishment of equal
pay in private industry has been taken. Resolutions permitting equalpay adjustments to women workers in the face of a genera] policy
stabilizing wage rates were passed by the War Labor Boards in World
Wars I and II.
In the present mobilization program the Wage Stabilization Board
has acted similarly. It is difficult to trace the effects of these adminis­
trative actions since they are permissive rather than mandatory. Un­
til 1944 the War Labor Board required employers who proposed to
equalize the pay of women workers to file a report of their actions, and
the 2,250 reports filed covered 59,500 women workers. Revocation
of the reporting requirement obscures the subsequent influence of the
pol icy.
Wage Stabilization Board Resolution No. 69 requires submission of
a petition. In contrast to the World War II experience, almost no
petitions have been submitted, but optimists point to the fact that
wage-equalizing applications may have been filed under other Wage
Board policies without specifying that women workers were involved.

Other Methods
There is very little detailed knowledge of the extent to which indi­
vidual establishments follow equal-pay practices, but the bits and



pieces of evidence taken from general statistics on earnings1 *
discrimination that involves both rates of pay and unequal job
While these figures certainly involve such related employment
matters as the tendency of women to find employment in the lower­
rated jobs, the hours they work, and their seniority status, they also
reflect discriminatory rates where these continue to be paid to women.
It is acknowledged by all that collective bargaining has played a
vital role in advancing the practice of equal pay and is one of the
major mechanisms for establishing equal-pay practices. A recent
analysis of a sample of 2,644 collective-bargaining agreements by
the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that nearly a fifth (17 percent)
of the sample affirmed the principle of equal pay. Employment data
were available for nearly 5(4 million workers covered by 2,206 of the
agreements, and a fourth (26 percent) of these workers were employed
under equal-pay provisions.
State equal-pay legislation and equal-pay clauses in collective-bar­
gaining contracts together have given greater emphasis to the value of
careful job evaluation and position classification. Implicit in an
objectively designed wage structure is the concept that the rate
attaches to the job and not to the job holder, and that the rate; is deter­
mined by the function and not by the sex of the worker. Outstanding
pioneer work in job evaluation was done by the Civil Service classi­
fication system.
Said Arthur S. Flemming in his keynote address: “. . . as far as I
can see, it is absolutely impossible for a, governmental agency or a pri­
vate business, or for an educational institution to have a Sound system
of personnel administration unless it does have a sound job classifica­
tion plan. So that, when persons try to exercise leadership in terms
of bringing into effect sound job classification plans, they are at the
same time laying a foundation for a program of equal pay for equal

The American Federation of Labor, the Congress of Industrial
Organizations, and the National Association of Manufacturers have
all endorsed the principle of equal pay.
The CIO at its 1951 convention urged its affiliates to oppose discrim­
ination against women through clauses in union contracts and by
State and national legislation. The AFL advocated achievement of
1 In New York State in December 1951 women workers in all manufacturing industries
averaged $47.06 against $77.61 for men. In Chicago in 1951 the median straight-time
weekly earnings of women office workers ranged from $44.50 to $63.70 for various types
of occupations and establishments; in the same occupations and establishments men’s
median earnings ranged from $57.40 to $78.15 per week.



equal pay through collective bargaining in its recent national con­
vention, but opposes Federal legislation. The NAM, opposing legisla­
tion, believes that the “principle of equal pay for equal performance
can be achieved through education and the voluntary cooperation of
enlightened employers.”
Other organizations which have supported the principle of
equal pay:
American Association of University Women.
General Federation of Women’s Clubs.
League of Women Voters of the United States.
National Consumers League.
National Council of Catholic Women.
National Council of Jewish Women.
National Federation of Business and Professional
Women’s Clubs.
Service Star Legion.
United Church Women.
Young Women’s Christian Association of America.
Both the Democratic and the Republican Party platforms in 1948
assured the voters of their support of the policy of equal pay.2 The
Republicans favored “equal pay for equal work regardless of sex.”
The Democratic Party favored “legislation assuring that the workers
of our Nation receive equal pay for equal work regardless of sex.”3
3 Similar action was taken by both major parties at tlieir 1952 conventions.

Monday, March 31,1952
Registration—9 a. m.
Morning Session—10 a. to.
Frieda S. Miller, Presiding
Welcoming Address:
Maurice J. Tobin, Secretary of Labor.

Keynote Address:
Arthur S. Flemming, Assistant to the Director (Manpower),
Office of Defense Mobilization.
“Equal Pay—What Are the Facts?”
Dr. Dorothy S. Brady, Consultant, Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Panel Discussion—“Day-to-Day Experience With Equal Pay.”
Afternoon Session—-2 p. to.
Elizabeth S. Magee, Presiding
“How to Make Equal Pay a Reality.”
General Discussion.

Tuesday, April 1,1952
No morning session
Afternoon Session—2 p. m.
Frieda S. Miller, Presiding
Report of Committee on Findings.
General Discussion.

Equal Pay—Present Reality or Future Dream
Maurice J. Tobin, Secretary of Labor
Welcome to this conference on Equal Pay. The conference itself
is welcome, because I look to it to give momentum to a vital program.
It is a program to which your Government, especially the Department
of Labor, and in particular the Women’s Bureau, has long been
As I look at this group, drawn from all parts of the country, rep­
resenting so many elements of our complex society, I am encouraged
to believe that the equal-pay program is not very far from achieving
its objectives. For all of you come here with your own special back­
grounds and interests in the spirit of a cooperative enterprise. By
welding your various viewpoints harmoniously into a common under­
taking, you will multiply the influence and strength of your individual
efforts. Together let us examine the truth, both pleasing and painful.
This conference has a very serious purpose. I hope it will blow7 or
blast away the fog of unrealistic, even romantic, thinking about
equal pay for women that still remains among various groups of
people in the country. Ask the average businessman, the laboring
man, and the public servant whether lie believes in equal pay, and
you will get virtually unanimous agreement. They are for it just
as they are against sin. And it is a pretty general assumption that
women do get equal pay. But the reality is often a denial of the
general belief.
In spite of what all responsible leaders think is right in regard
to equal pay on human grounds and as practical business and national
policy, practices creep in which are recognized as unsound and con­
trary to the morality of our times. Let me read a letter which a held
worker for the Women’s Bureau came across last month in the line
of duty. It might be amusing, if the implications were not so serious.
The manager of a broadcasting company writes to an employment
agency as follows:
Dear Mr. Blank: We have an opening here for a combination program
director and salesman. This position can be tilled by either a man or a woman.
We will pay a woman $20 a week for doing the office work and give her $10
a week drawing account, thus guaranteeing her $30 a week. We will also pay
her 20 percent commission on all sales.
We will start a man at $30 a week for doing the office work and $30 a week
drawing account, and also pay him 20 percent on all sales . . . the person who
fills tliis position must have at least a year or two of business and office experience
. . . the girl especially should be attractive.




When a woman walks into a department store, or buys an auto­
mobile, or seeks any kind of merchandise (or services), is she charged
more—or less—because she is a woman? Of course not. There is one
price for all shoppers.
But it is sometimes another story when a women seeks a job. There
are some employers who still expect to pay a woman less than the rate
for the job. This practice is neither fair nor logical. It arises from
a state of mind, a bad business habit, a cultural pattern that will ulti­
mately be eradicated by the efforts of trade unions, women’s organiza­
tions, progressive employers, and others, like the members of this
There are today in the United States about 19,000,000 women in
the civilian labor force. Last year about one-third of all the women
of working age in the United States were actually employed.
During World War II, the proportion of women in the labor force
reached 37 per hundred in April 1915. Why do so many women
work? The answer to that question can be answered by more facts
and figures. They work for the same reason that men do . . . to make
a living. In a Women’s Bureau survey carried out in cooperation
with 6 large labor unions and to which some 8,300 women workers
responded, it was found that 60 percent not only supported them­
selves, but had others depending upon them. Fifteen percent were
the sole support of their families. While the majority of these fam­
ilies had only one other member, some of the union women were the
only wage earners in families of four or more.
I am glad that I can come before this conference with pride in the
record which the Department of Labor can present of support for an
equal-pay program. For well over a quarter of a century, the Federal
Government has recognized the validity of the principle of “rate for
the job’- irrespective of sex. This principle was established for Fed­
eral civil-service workers by the Classification Act of 1923 and was
reaffirmed in the Classification Act of 1919.
The position of the Department of Labor has been clearly stated
time and again. The late Secretary Schwellenbach said in his 1947
Equal-pay legislation “is required as a matter of justice to the mil­
lions of women in the American labor force and to prevent the use of
women as wage cutters, a process which tends to depress general wage
levels of both men and women.”
And in my first annual report in 1948, I stated, “The principle of
‘equal pay for equal work’ is as basic to the American way of life as
are the guarantees of free speech, free thought, free press, free assem­
bly, and free association . . .”



In the light of these truths, consider the point of view of the em­
ployer who was recently asked why lie paid the women workers in liis
factory less for a given job than he paid the men. He said; “Tradi­
tion, I suppose,” then added frankly, “anyhow it’s cheaper.”
But you and I know that it isn’t. The unequal pay practice is not
cheaper in the end'—for anyone. Undercutting the wage scale by one
or another group in society jeopardizes that most desirable of all social
goals—an adequate standard of living for the family. Equal pay is
essential to a healthy economy. Displacement of higher paid workers
or acceptance by them of lower wage scales eventually must result
in a reduction in consumer purchasing power and in standards of
I have not come here today, however, to belabor you with economic
theories as familiar to you as to me, but rather to toss into the air a
few straws that show which way the wind is blowing. Certainly I
would not want to create an impression that the fault lies only on the
side of the employer.
Often men employees try to perpetuate unfair practices—sometimes
on the shaky grounds that more muscles deserve more money.
For example, a man display artist at a department store complained
because women artists received the same pay as men. He based his
complaint on the fact that the women had to have a porter carry their
models for them, while the men could carry their own. The employer
said, “All right, then we will pay porter’s rates to the men for the time
spent carrying the models, and for the artistic work the established
rate of pay for all display artists.” There were no more complaints.
This equal-pay conference comes at a good time. Because of high
employment and the need for good workers, you have a good oppor­
tunity to persuade all interested groups of the justice and merit of your
case. Press your educational efforts now. That should be the core
of your action program.
And let, women be ready and willing to assert the right of equal treat­
ment where they are legally accorded that right. Reports have come
to us that even in States which have equal-pay legislation, there are
areas of noncompliance. This kind of situation thrives on ignorance
of the law. Therefore, besides educating legislators and adminis­
trators, management and trade unions, you must educate women work­
ers themselves as to the protection afforded them under the law.
Another educational task faces you. It is of the same family as
“equal pay.” It concerns full job opportunities. Workers and em­
ployers alike should recognize that women have shown themselves
capable at jobs for which they are rarely selected. There are few
women in top level executive positions in industry and government,
or in highly skilled technical jobs. There could and should be more.



The fault lies partly in the fact that women themselves have been per­
suaded that they cannot qualify or that they cannot get the job. They
must be encouraged by persistent publicity and education to have more
faith in themselves.
I understand, of course, that in most employed women a deep psycho­
logical conflict must be resolved. Women, all women, are at heart
mothers and have a basic homemaking drive. For centuries their cre­
ative talents have been directed almost exclusively to the immediate
welfare of their family circle—where they are always needed. Yet
today millions of women must work. That is a simple economic fact.
Why, then, should they be relegated to or accept jobs and responsi­
bilities inferior to their abilities? They are entitled to the full re­
wards of their talents. The Nation needs the product of their skills.
Herein lies your responsibility. You must be the leaders in this
program. When I consider the great advances in social welfare which
have been accomplished largely with your help, I have no doubt that
you will one day soon establish the equal-pay principle throughout our
country. Godspeed to all your efforts.

Keynote Address
Arthur S. Flemming, Assistant to the Director (Man­

power) Office of Defense Mobilization
Madam Chairman, Secretary Tobin, and friends. I appreciate
having the opportunity of participating in what I regard as a very
significant conference.
Miss Miller has indicated that I did have some administrative con­
tact with a law that does provide for equal pay for equal work.
When I left the Civil Service Commission in 1948 to go back to Ohio
to serve as President of Ohio Wesleyan University, I immediately
became conscious of the fact that this problem of equal pay for equal
work also exists in the realm of educational administration.
I remember distinctly taking a look at the salary schedules at the
university for the first time and noting immediately that, as far as
women were concerned, the principle of equal pay for equal work had
not been followed in all instances. In developing a new salary sched­
ule, we tried very hard to keep that principle in mind.
Just this morning—prior to leaving the office pursuant to coming
here—the vice president and dean of the university called me relative
to some salary changes for next year, and he said: “I think that in
one or two instances we ought to make some upward adjustments
beyond what we are planning for the group as a whole, in order to



come closer to this concept of equal pay for equal work; what do you
I said, “I am just about to leave to participate in a conference that
has that as its objective. I concur in your recommendation.”
As I have had the opportunity of coining in contact with other
administrators of non-tax-supported institutions of higher education,
I am very conscious of the fact that there is a great deal of work for
us to do in the field of education- if we are to achieve the kind of ob­
jectives that this' conference has in mind. I know also that it is a
problem in the educational field as far as tax-supported institutions
are concerned.
I was very happy to have the privilege of participating in the ad­
ministration of the Classification Act of 1923, while I served as a
member of the Civil Service Commission. That act has since been
amended and is now known as the Classification Act of 1949.
When I was a member of the Civil Service Commission I used to
say on a good many occasions that it was my feeling that the United
States Government should become known as one of the—if not the—
most progressive employers in the Nation; and I still believe that
is an objective which the United States Government, as an employer,
should keep in mind.
In this particular area the Federal Government has taken the lead
and is recognized as a progressive employer. When it comes to pro­
viding equal job opportunities for women, however, particularly in
the upper administrative levels, I think that even the United States
Government as an employer has some work to do. And I certainly
agree with Secretary Tobin in his emphasis on that particular point.
As this conference thinks in terms of equal pay for equal work, I
also hope that it will think in terms of equal job opportunities, be­
cause it seems to me that both are closely related to our defense mobil­
ization program.
When I have had the opportunity of discussing the manpower
aspects of our defense mobilization program, in all instances I have
proceeded from the following premises:
First, that we are face to face with the most serious threat to our basic free­
doms that has ever confronted us as a nation;
Second, that in all probability we will be engaged in some kind of a defense
mobilization program for the next 10 to 15 to 20 years;
Third, that this Nation is capable of handling the manpower aspects of the
defense mobilization program on a voluntary basis, and that it could continue
to do so even though we become involved in an all-out war.

All of you have read statements that Secretary Tobin has made,
and that others have made who have been participating in the handling
of the manpower aspects of the defense mobilization program, to the
effect that on a national basis and in terms of gross numbers we are



not face to face with any serious manpower shortages. This is cer­
tainly the case, and I think it will continue to be the case, as long as
we are participating in a defense mobilization program of approxi­
mately the magnitude of the present program.
At the same time, however, I am sure you have heard statements,
and read statements, to the effect that when we move over into certain
skilled trade areas, and when we begin to think in terms of scientific,
technical and engineering personnel—on a national basis and in terms
of gross numbers—we are face to face with serious shortages.
As we think in terms of those shortages, we emphasize, of course, the
absolute importance, first of all, of all employers doing everything
within their power to utilize their manpower resources in accordance
with the training and experience that those persons have received. In
other words, we place a great deal of emphasis on maximum utiliza­
tion of the resources now available to us.
In the second place, we have emphasized the fact that in connection
with our counseling programs—both in the field of higher education
and on the secondary level—-we should do a better job of counseling
young men and women who have aptitudes for w'ork in those areas
where we are confronted with serious shortages, to obtain the train­
ing they need in order to serve the Nation with maximum effectiveness.
In this connection, for example, dealing specifically with shortages
in the field of engineering, I have emphasized my own conviction
that there isn't a chance in the world of our closing the gap between
the supply and demand unless we do persuade more women with
aptitudes for this type of work to receive training in the field of
Then finally, we have emphasized the importance of identifying
persons who are now working and who have aptitudes along these
lines, and, in cooperation with educational institutions, making it
possible for them to receive the training which in turn will make it
possible for them to be up-graded.
Here again, it is absolutely essential to place emphasis on the neces­
sity of women as well as men being provided with such opportunities.
In summary, it is clear to me that in those areas where we are con­
fronted with serious shortages we must do those things which will
bring about a more intelligent utilization of the womanpower re­
sources of our Nation, if our defense mobilization program is to be
handled in an effective manner.
And remember, I am not talking about an emergency of 2 or 3 years’
duration, a short-term emergency such as confronted us in World
War II. I am talking about a long-term emergency, and the things
we need to do in the manpower field today are things that we are going
to have to continue to do in the future.



If we are going to utilize the womanpower of our Nation in an
intelligent and effective manner, and if our defense mobilization pro­
gram is to rest on a solid foundation from a manpower point of view,
then it is perfectly clear to me that this principle of equal pay for
equal work, and the principle of equal job opportunities for women,
are “musts.”
And certainly whenever we refuse to put into operation this con­
cept of equal pay for equal work, we are just refusing to face the
manpower aspects of our defense mobilization program in an in­
telligent and realistic manner.
That is why, personally, I am delighted that there is a conference
of this kind taking place in the City of Washington during the next 2
days, and I am also delighted to know that at the end of this con­
ference there are certain findings which are going to be submitted by
those participating in the conference.
In this area as in all other areas we can carry forward our educa­
tional programs effectively when government-—-Federal Government
or State governments—exercises intelligent leadership. Oftentimes
this leadership is exercised by the passage of legislation. And cer­
tainly I hope that over the period of the next year or two substantial
progress will be made in the legislative field, at both Federal and State
governmental levels.
Also, however, if we are going to make real progress in this par­
ticular area—as well as in many other manpower areas—we must lift
the levels of performance as far as the whole field of personnel man­
agement is concerned, whether we are thinking of public employers
or private employers. That is the only way in which we can hope to
deal with manpower problems on a voluntary basis.
Well, here in this area, you—through leadership you have the op­
portunity of exercising—have the privilege and opportunity of per­
suading employers, both public and private, that if they are to deal
with the manpower problems on a voluntary basis, and if they are to
make the most effective and intelligent use of our existing manpower
and womanpower resources, they must put into effect this concept
of equal pay for equal work, and the other concept of equal job
opportunities for women.
Now, I have noted in reading the literature in this particular area
that it is not too difficult to obtain an agreement between management
and labor, for example, calling for equal pay for equal work. But it
is more difficult to bring about an actual enforcement of such a
Growing out of my own experience in the Federal Government, I
know that there is not a chance in the world of (lie. concept of equal pay
for equal work really being put into effect unless there is in effect



a good, sound, practical system of analyzing and classifying jobs on
the basis of duties and responsibilities.
This is the reason why the Federal Government has made some
progress in this particular area; and as far as I can see, it is absolutely
impossible for a governmental agency, or a private business, or an
educational institution, to have a sound system of personnel admin­
istration unless it does have a sound job classification plan.
When persons exercise leadership in the personnel field in terms
of persuading public and private employers to put into effect sound
job classification plans, they are at the same time laying the founda­
tion for a program of equal pay for equal work. And that is the
only way in which we are going to make substantial progress in the
direction of reaching the objective in which you are interested.
As one who has responsibility for the manpower aspects of defense
mobilization, I want to assure you that I will be very, very anxious
to have the opportunity of examining the findings which you make,
and that personally I will do anything and everything I possibly can
to see to it that those findings are put into operation.
I believe in the objective in which you are interested. I not only
believe in it, but I believe that it is imperative for our Government
to exercise the kind of leadership which will result in the realization
of the objective in which you are interested.
Thank you very much for this opportunity of being with you.

Equal Pay—What Are the Facts?
Dr. Dorothy S. Brady

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U. S. Department of Labor
The General Picture
Fifteen million women and 41 million men who were employed in
civilian work in April 1951 reported earnings for 1950. On the aver­
age, women’s earnings from wages and salaries amounted to 45 percent
of men’s earnings.3 The spread between the median earnings of women
and men, from about $1,200 to approximately $2,700, can be traced to
many differences in men’s and women’s work—in occupation, industry,
location, length of employment, as well as in the wage or salary rate.
Advocates of the equal-pay principle assume that some part of the
general difference in the earnings of men and women is due to differen­
tial rates of pay for the same kind of work. The statistics of income
3 These comparisons of men’s and women’s earnings are from U. S. Bureau of the Census,
Population Reports, Series P-60, No. 9, “Consumer Income,” March 25, 1952.



that have been accumulating over the past 10 years support this view
but at the same time, raise some serious questions about the progress
of women’s employment. In 1939, the ratio of women’s earnings to
men’s was higher than in 1950, 59 percent compared with 45 percent.
Excluding domestic service, the ratio of women’s earnings to men’s
was 62 percent for 1939 and 53 percent for 1950 for all industries.
Women’s earnings, relative to men’s are much higher than the aver­
age in the major industries in which the equal-pay principle has
operated to some extent over the longest time—namely public adminis­
tration and transportation and public utilities. The median earnings
of women in public administration amounted to 74 percent of the
median earnings of men in 1950; the percentage for transportation and
the utilities was 67. At the other end of the scale, in the industries
only recently affected by the equal-pay principle in any degree, retail
trade and personal services, women’s earnings relative to men’s are
below the ratio of 53 percent for all industries combined—in retail
trade 48 percent and in personal services 33 percent. In manufactur­
ing women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings amounted to
57 percent, somewhat above the over-all ratio.
A comparison of women’s and men’s earnings in the major occupa­
tional groups shows a similar range which cannot be considered a
result of differences in the training or skills required. Among sales
workers and personal service workers, exclusive of those in private
households, women’s average earnings are less than 40 percent of the
men’s. Among clerical workers the ratio is highest, 69 percent; among
factory operatives and in the professions, women’s earnings average
a little less than 60 percent of the men’s.
Women workers are concentrated in the middle-income occupational
groups as judged by men’s earnings. Relatively few women work as
laborers, the lowest-paid occupation among men. (Domestic service,
the lowest-paid occupation for women includes so few men that it has
to be excluded from the comparison of men’s and women’s earnings.)
Very few are found in business management, the occupation in which
men earn the most. Nearly 60 percent of women employed outside
of private households are factory operatives or clerical workers. Be­
cause of this occupational concentration, women workers in an indus­
try may have earnings well above the average percentage of men’s
earnings even though few women are found in the highest paid

Women’s Earnings in Specific Occupations
The general picture of women’s earnings in 1950 was much the same
as in 1939. Until more publications from the 1950 Census are avail­
able, the data from the 1940 Census will have to serve for detailed



comparisons such as the relative earnings of men and women in spe­
cific occupations. Since so large a proportion of women workers are
found in the major group “operatives and kindred workers,” this
group may be taken to illustrate in more detail the factors influencing
the relative earnings of men and women. The 35 occupations within
the operatives’ group separate into three classes. In one class there
were very few or no women employed in the occupation; and here
the men’s earnings for 12 months’ work were highest, above $1,300 for
all but one occupation-—service station attendants. In the second,
the men’s earnings were close to $1,300 for almost all occupations,
and the proportion of women workers ranged from 10 to 40 percent.
In this second class, the women’s earnings ranged from 55 to 70 per­
cent of the men’s earnings. In the third class of occupations, where
the proportion of women workers exceeded 40 percent, the women’s
average earnings were from 60 to 100 percent of the men’s—but the
men’s earnings were much lower than in the other two classes of oc­
cupations, uniformly $1,100 or less. It appears that where the earn­
ings of women and men approach equality, there are many women
employed and the earnings of men and women are equally low.
These statistics obviously lack the precision of comparison that is
defined in equal-pay laws and equal-pay provisions in collective-bar­
gaining agreements, but they throw much light on the historical effects
of the employment of women in the determination of the occupational
differentials in earnings. The channeling of women into certain oc­
cupations may have kept the rate of earnings low, but the main in­
fluence may well have been in continuing the existence of the occupa­
tion. If all the earnings of women were raised to the level of men’s
earnings in the same occupation, women as a group would still have
low earnings relative to men. The men’s earnings in the occupations
in which women are numerous, amount to about 70 percent of the
men’s earnings in the occupations few women follow. Among the
operatives and kindred workers, equal pay might raise the ratio of
women’s earnings to men’s from the actual 59 percent to slightly
more than 70 percent; but without change in the occupational differen­
tials in employment of men and women there could be no greater
change towards equality.

Age and Experience
The clustering of women in certain occupations is not entirely due
to restrictions on entry into other fields because of sex alone. Within
all occupational groups women tend to be concentrated in the types
of work which require the least training and experience. Women’s
occupations thus tend to be those in which the younger workers of
both sexes are found; and the woman worker is still characteristically



a younger worker although there have been substantial increases in
the number of older women employed.
Men’s earnings rise steadily with age to a maximum in the ages
between 45 and 55. The earnings of young men 20 to 25 years old
are, on the average, about 60 percent of the peak earnings of men
50 years old. The earnings of young persons under 20 tend to be
the same for both sexes but women’s earnings rise at a slower rate
and reach their highest point at an earlier age, between 35 and 45.
The peak earnings of women are about equal to the earnings of young
men 20 to 25 years old.
If the age differences in men’s earnings are taken as a measure of
the value of experience, the difference in men’s earnings between the
occupations with relatively large numbers of women workers and those
with practically no women workers can be attributed to this factor
alone. If there were no women workers, either the wages in many
of these occupations would have to be increased or the work process
mechanized for there would not be a sufficient number of young or
inexperienced men to fill all the positions. Women swell the ranks
of inexperienced workers and thereby help determine the occupational
differentials in wages and salaries that prevail at any given time.
It might be argued that the discontinuous work history of the great
majority of women can lead to no other result—women will always
lack experience—but this interpretation does not explain why the sex
differential in earnings is established in the early 20’s at the beginning
of work experience for both men and women. In almost all situations
the earnings of women in the age group 20 to 24 are nearly 80 percent
of the men’s earnings. This difference may be attributed to the chan­
neling of women into certain occupations but it does not explain
the channeling. The occupational distribution of young men and
women in the labor force today must be explained to a large extent
by their educational training. Practically the same numbers of men
and women finish high school and finish college. We all know that
opportunities exist for women in many fields that were closed to them
in the past—but where are the women equipped to take advantage
of these opportunities? It seems to me that the secret of the max­
imum utilization of women in productive services lies deep down in
the educational process. Equal pay as a principle may have its chief
force as a challenge to prepare women to perform equal work when
there are opportunities to do so.

Report of Committee on Findings
There was agreement on the principle of equal pay for comparable
work in the same establishment.
There was also agreement that in addition to equal pay, there needs
to be equal opportunity for women in training, placement and
Three methods were discussed through which this might be
1. Legislation. .
2. Education.
3. Collective bargaining.

1. Legislation
Majority opinion seemed to be in favor of Federal legislation which
would set a standard for employers and would furnish a framework
for collective bargaining, such as was accomplished [for minimum
wage] by the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Since Federal legislation if enacted would cover only employees in
interstate commerce, State legislation is also required. State laws
which have been enacted vary greatly and in some instances are in­
adequate and difficult to enforce and should be improved. However,
even a law which is not completely effective has value in establishing
a standard.
Furthermore, the practice of equal pay by Federal, State, and
municipal Governments has resulted in more equitable pay standards
for women and better personnel relationships and practices.
There were some views expressed that rather than through legisla­
tion, equal pay should be accomplished through development of pub­
lic opinion, education on a broad scale, and improved management
Traditionally, however, legislation has been recognized as an educa­
tional basis for employers, employees, and the public.

2. Education
Members of the conference indicated a great need for an educa­
tional program which would result in a better understanding of the
principle of and med for equal pay. Various organizations requested
help in promoting the idea at the local community level. Suggestions
offered included regular meetings for discussion of equal pay, printed
material in club magazines, and collection of pertinent data from
union organizations.



3. Collective Bargaining
Collective bargaining has resulted in the establishment of proper
wage rates for the job regardless of sex for many workers.
Collective bargaining does not cover the large number of women
who are unorganized at the present time. For these women, the only
methods by which equal pay could be obtained would be through
legislation, education, or voluntary action by enlightened employers.

of the


Since our country is facing a crucial period in our national life
which requires the maximum utilization of all labor resources; and
since legislation that is enacted into law by the majority of our
people is a democratic process, it is pertinent to make the following
recommendations r
1. That Federal legislation for equal pay for equal work be en­
acted as soon as possible.
2. That State legislation for equal pay for equal work be enacted
where it does not exist, and that existing State laws be improved
in cases where they are inadequate.
3. That an intensive educational campaign on the principle of and
need for equal pay be carried on at a national and local level to
inform and influence the employers, employees, and the general
public. This will require the use of all channels available to
the women’s organizations, the Women’s Bureau, the unions,
the press, the radio, and community organizations.
4. That a small continuing committee be appointed from the con­
ference to further the objectives agreed upon. There are equal
pay bills pending in both houses of Congress. To be enacted,
legislation for equal pay for equal work must receive wide­
spread support.
Addendum to Recommendation No. h of the Findings Committee
Shortly after the conference, the Director of the Women’s Bureau
called together for consultation on the subject of the “small contin­
uing committee,” the individuals who had served the Bureau in an
advisory capacity for the National Equal Pay Conference.
Since the conference had specifically favored as its first objective
the enactment of Federal legislation as soon as possible, it was obvious
that an important part of the work of a continuing committee would
be to promote such legislation. Yet, as the Director of the Bureau
pointed out, no Federal agency can he involved in any activity de­
signed to influence Congress.
221541—52------ 4



The Planning Committee, therefore, decided that the continuing
committee would have to act as an independent group. Such a com­
mittee would feel free to call on the Bureau for such traditional
services as fact-finding and for educational and technical advice on
legislative matters, but it would he set up separate and apart from the
Women’s Bureau.
The group then appointed a subcommittee whose function was to
prepare a plan of work for a small continuing committee, which
would further the objectives of the National Equal Pay Conference,
as stated in the Recommendations of the Findings Committee.

Summary of Conference Discussion
The report of the Committee on Findings succinctly brings together
the conclusions reached at the conference.
The variety of viewpoints expressed, differences of opinion as to
methods for achieving equal pay, the relationship of equal opportunity
to equal pay, and the underlying thread running through all discus­
sion, namely the need for greater public understanding, could not be
presented in sufficient detail in that report. Among a group of people
representative of such a variety of viewpoints, background, and ex­
perience it was not in the least surprising to find widely divergent
opinions no matter what the subject. Therefore this section will
summarize briefly the discussions upon which these differing con­
clusions are based.
Conference members all supported the principle of equal pay and
the need for a broad educational program to create better public
There were those who believed passage of Federal and State legis­
lation -was the answer to achieving in reality the “rate for the job.”
Some groups favored State legislation, but opposed Federal legis­
lation. Still others wanted no legislation at all, but were sure volun­
tary action by industry would provide “rate for the job regardless of
Discussion on legislation revealed the fear on the part of some that
existing State laws were difficult to enforce. Many of them were
written in such a way that their intent could be circumvented. Any­
way, until women have access to better paying jobs legislation was
thought to have little meaning. Others pointed out the values of
legislation even though the law might not be perfect. Inspection
staff has an opportunity to do an educational as well as an enforce­
ment job on equal pay and many injustices are wiped out after pas­
sage of a law through the voluntary compliance of an overwhelming
majority of employers.



Collective bargaining as a method of providing equal pay for com­
parable work was also presented as an effective method. On the whole,
this premise was accepted, but many conference members pointed out
what in their opinion were definite limitations to the effectiveness of
such a program. The large numbers of women who are unorganized,
the lack of enforcement of equal-pay clauses in collective-bargaining
agreements, and the danger of the equal-pay clause being omitted
when a contract is renewed, were all arguments given in support of
legislation in addition to collective bargaining.
Throughout the conference, regardless of the subject, there arose
for discussion time after time the belief that a better educational
job needs to be done to create favorable public opinion in support of
(lie principle of equal pay and to make known the economic sound­
ness of this principle. Women, in particular the wives of working
men and business executives, have a peculiar opportunity to develop
sound attitudes on equal pay. The conviction that attainment of
equal pay would be a very limited victory unless women also obtain
equal job opportunities was reiterated. Equal opportunity for women
must be available in the field of training, placement, and advancement.
Women themselves must be convinced that they are capable of assum­
ing positions of responsibility in business, the professions, and public
Thus a day of lively discussion refreshed the thinking of sincere
men and women. The conference ended with the expressed convic­
tion that much still remained to be done and that individuals as
well as organizations had an obligation to work for the establish­
ment of the principle of equal pay as a reality rather than to let it
remain a future dream.

Notes From the Field
Unfortunately, it is still difficult to get comprehensive plant-by­
plant, job-by-job statistical information to prove the extent of equal
pay in the United States today.
Illustrative material based on information picked up by field rep­
resentatives of the Bureau and from other sources indicate that there
still are instances where the “rate for the job” is not company policy.
In a department store women floor-service managers were receiving about $3
per week less than men on the same job. The only reason given for the unequal
rates was that it is a traditional practice, “probably based on the belief that
customers prefer dealing with men.”
In four banks it was found that there was a woman's rate and a man’s rate
for teller trainees, although both were equally inexperienced on the job. In
one of the banks there was a differential in the hiring rate for teller trainees,
and also for experienced men and women tellers. The differential was for no
uniform amount, but it was at least $25 per month for the experienced women
and as much or more for women trainees.
In one city the teachers’ union has been given printed wage scales which
showed equal pay for men and women, but men teachers were paid more money
on the side so that in fact equal pay did not exist.
Job orders in several public employment offices show the requirements
for tlic job were exactly the same, whether the person hired was a man or a
woman, yet the rate of pay offered in each case, as shown below7, indicates salary
discrimination against women:
Job to bo done

Salary of man hired

Medical technician in laboratory.. $285; end of 3 months
Bookkeeper (beverage bottling)__ $75 to $80 per week.
Salesperson, general hardware___
Manager, credit and collection, $40 to $50 per week.
retail clothing store.
Sales clerk, grocery store; can $39 per wTeek
advance to checker.
Bookkeeper, office manager trainee $200 to $225 a month.
(for man who might be inter­
ested, employer will not require
much experience).
Salesperson, ladies’ ready-to-wear. $6 to $7 per day____
Bookkeeper (heating contractor) __ $65 per week
Bookkeeper (wholesale uniforms). $250 a month _
Salesperson, men’s clothing (part $6 a day_
___ __

Salary of woman hired
$230; end of 3 months
$50 to $60 per week.
$35 per week.
$35 to $40 per week.
$36 per week.
$175 to $200 a month.

$5 per day.
$45 per week.
(To be arranged.)
$5 a day.



Participants in National Conference on Equal Pay
Hon. Maurice J. Tobin—Welcoming Address,
Secretary of Labor.
Arthur S. Fleming—Keynote Address,
Assistant to the Director (Manpower),
Office of Defense Mobilization.
Dr. Dorothy S. Brady—Speaker,
Consultant, Bureau of Labor Statistics,
U. S. Department of Labor.
Frieda S. Miller—Presiding at Monday morning and Tuesday sessions,
Women’s Bureau.
Elizabeth S. Magee—Presiding at Monday afternoon session,
Executive Secretary,
National Consumers League.
Sarah T. Hughes, Moderator,
Irvin R. Kuenzli,
President, National Federation of
Business and Professional Women’s
American Federation of Teachers,
Mrs. Margaret Ackroyd,
Chief, Division of Women and Chil­ David Lasser,
Director of Research,
International Union of Electrical,
Rhode Island Department of Labor.
Radio and Machine Workers, CIO.
Harry M. Douty,
Chief, Division of Wages and Indus­
Mrs. Mary T. Norton,
trial Relations,
Special Womanpower Consultant to
Bureau of Labor Statistics,
the Secretary of Labor.
U. S. Department of Labor.
Lena E. Ebeling,
Adviser on Equal Pay to the U. S. Boris Shishkin,
Economist, American Federation of
Employer Delegation, 34th Inter­
national Labor Conference.
Mrs. Olya Margolin,
Bess Bloodworth, Chairman,
Former Vice President,
Washington Representative,
Namm’s Department Store.
National Council of Jewish Women.
Mary Anderson,
Former Director, Women's Bureau, Pauline M. Newman,
U. S. Department of Labor.
Educational Director, Union Health
Dorcas Campbell,
International Ladies’ Garment Work­
Assistant Vice President,
ers Union, AFL.
East River Savings Bank.



Frieda S. Miller, Chairman
Director, Women’s Bureau,
U. S. Department of Labor.
Mary Anderson,
Former Director, Women's Bureau,
U. S. Department of Labor.

Irvin R. Kuenzli,
American Federation of Teachers,
Martin C. Kyne,
Executive Secretary,
Retail, Wholesale and Department
Store Union, CIO.

Hartman Barber,
Legislative Representative,
Brotherhood of Railway & Steamship
Mrs. Olya Margolin,
Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express
Washington Representative,
and Station Employees, AFL.
National Council of Jewish Women.
Esther Briesemeister,
Velma T. McEwen,
National Staff Member, YWCA.
Executive Secretary,
Elisabeth Christman,
Fort Worth Urban League.
Legislative Representative,
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of Irma Piepho,
America, CIO.
Administrative Assistant,
Gordon H. Cole,
National Council of Catholic Women.
Editor, The Machinist, International
Marjorie Temple,
Association of Machinists, AFL.
Legislative Representative,
Eleanor Coit,
National Federation of Business and
Director, American Labor Education
Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc.
Martha Ziegler,
Lena E. Ebeling,
Superintendent of Women’s and
Adviser on Equal Pay to the U. S.
Children’s Employment,
Employer Delegation,
Illinois Department of Labor.
34th International Labor Conference.
Executive Secretary of Conference—Mrs. Adelia B. Kloak, Chief, Special Services
and Publications Division, Women’s Bureau, U. S. Department of Labor

Readily Available References on Equal Pay for Women
/. W omen’s Bureau materials. Copies can be obtained from the
Women’s Bureau, V. S. Department of Labor, Washington 25,
D. C.:
Equal pay for women. Women’s Bureau Leaflet 2 (revised 1952).
Equal-pay indicators. April 1952. 14 pp. Mimeo. D-43.
Analysis of State equal-pay laws. April 1952. 2 pp. Mimeo. D-48.
Inventory of equal-pay laws, by Marguerite J. Fisher. Beprint from Inde­
pendent Woman, February 1952.
Equal pay for equal work. Reprint. (Serial No. R. 2071) from January 1952
Monthly Labor Review, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U. S. Department of
Case studies in equal pay for women. September 1951. 27 pp. Multilithed.



Digest of State equal-pay laws as of July 1, 1951. 14 pp. Mimeo. D-15.
Movement for equal-pay legislation in the United States. May 1950. 5 pp.
Statement of Frieda S. Miller, Director, before a Subcommittee of the House
Committee on Education and Labor on H. R. 1584 and H. R. 2438, to provide
equal pay for equal work for women. May 19, 1950. 9 pp. Mimeo.
Suggested language for an act to abolish discriminatory wage rates based on
sex. September 1946. 3 pp. Mimeo.
What you don’t want in an “equal pay” bill. December 1947. 3 pp. Mimeo.
Text of equal-pay law in each State having such a law. Mimeo. Separates.

II. Material that can he consulted in Library of Congress, Depart­
ment of Labor Library, and most depository libraries:
The case for equal-pay legislation. Article by Bess Bloodworth inserted in
Congressional Record, June 16, 1952, by Hon. Katharine St. George. Pp.
Lesinski, Hon. John. Equal pay for women. Congressional Record, May 22,
1950. Pp. A3S37-3S38.
U. S. Congress. Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare. Women’s
equal pay act of 1950. Senate Report 2203 on S. 700, August 1950. Slst
Cong. 18 pp.
------------ Subcommittee of the Committee on Education and Labor. Equal
pay for equal work for women. Hearings—79th Cong, on S. 1178, October
1945, 1946. 222 pp.
------House of Representatives. Subcommittee of the Committee on Education
and Labor. Equal pay for equal work for women. Hearings—Slst Cong,
on 11. R. 1584 and H. R. 2438, May 1950. 141 pp.
—■—•------ Special Subcommittee to the Committee on Education and Labor.
Women’s equal pay act of 1949. Report on H. It. 1584. Slst Cong., 1950.
11 pp.
------------ Subcommittee No. 4 of the Committee on Education and Labor.
Equal pay for equal work for women. Hearings—80th Cong, on H. R. 4273
and H. R. 4408, February 1948. 306 pp.
------------ - Committee on Labor. Women’s equal pay act of 1945. House Report
2687 on H. R. 5221, July 1046. 79th Cong. 8 pp.