BELLEAIR, Florida — Republican women don’t like earning less than their male counterparts any more than Democratic women do, and this puts GOP congressional nominee David Jolly in a bind.
Before seeking political office, Jolly, who is running in next Tuesday’s special election to fill the late-Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young’s seat in Florida’s 13th congressional district, was employed for years as a lobbyist in Washington D.C. Though he worked on a number of controversial issues, one of them that has caused his campaign the most consternation was his lobbying against the Paycheck Fairness Act, federal legislation designed to help close the pay gap between male and female workers.
ThinkProgress spoke with a number of attendees at the Belleair Women’s Republican Club meeting on Friday. With near unanimity, the women were bothered by the fact that women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, and they wanted Congress to do something about it.
“If you and I were doing the exact same job, we should both get the same salary,” Bobbie Bernstein, who has lived in Pinellas County since 1961, said. Sue Salmeri, a lifelong Republican, agreed: “I think that women have come a long way, but they’ve got work to do. And they should certainly demand equal pay for equal work.”
Ann Castro, an ashtanga yoga instructor who had worked at the Republican National Committee when she was younger, said equal pay hadn’t been an issue for her personally, “but I know for my girlfriends it has been a problem.” She said it bothered her that women make less than men for the same jobs. “I think there should be equal pay for equal work. I mean, obviously.”
Another woman, Marilyn DiGirol, worried that Obama was dragging the country towards “socialism,” but did take a more liberal tack on the gender wage gap. “It’s an issue,” she said. “Women deserve to be compensated as much as men.”
ThinkProgress asked these women, all of whom supported Jolly, whether they would like to see him support legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act if he’s elected next week. “Oh definitely,” Salmeri said, arguing that the legislation was “a long time coming.” DiGirol agreed: “I would like him to vote for it,” she said. When I asked DiGirol if she was aware of his previous work opposing the Paycheck Fairness Act, she gave him a pass. “He was a lobbyist,” she remarked.
Bernstein and Castro also said they would like for Jolly to come out in favor of federal legislation to rectify the wage gap. “Gotta start someplace,” Bernstein said.
Only one woman ThinkProgress spoke with opposed congressional action on the matter. Susan Wolf, a retired business owner, argued that “women actually do make equal to men” if you compare within professions, citing maternity leave as the cause of a wage gap. However, as Bryce Covert pointed out, this explanation falls short. Factors such as race, occupation, longevity at a job, and marital status cannot explain the wage gap. Regardless of their job or background, rank or position, women continue to make less than men.