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Group of businesswomen look to make mark on history

Equal pay for men and women is priority No. 1 for the Athena Society, a venerable Tampa civic organization.

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  • | 6:00 a.m. July 26, 2019
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Lorna Taylor, president of the Athena Society. Courtesy photo.
Lorna Taylor, president of the Athena Society. Courtesy photo.
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Despite being passed by Congress in 1972, the Equal Rights Amendment — a measure that would guarantee equal pay for men and women, among other advancements — is still not the law of the land. That’s because only 37 of the required 38 states have ratified the amendment, and Congress has virtually ignored it over the past three decades.

Among the states that haven’t ratified the ERA? You guessed it — Florida.

But momentum for the ERA is on the upswing. Some 94% of respondents to a 2016 poll expressed support for the amendment.

"In research terms, this is as close to unanimous as support could possibly be," states Dan Goldstein, chief science officer of db5, the market research firm that conducted the poll on behalf of the ERA Coalition and Fund for Women's Equality, in a press release. "There's nothing 94% of Americans agree on — except this issue, it would seem." 

Locally, ratification of the ERA is one of the primary causes of the Athena Society, a Tampa Bay area organization formed in 1976 to promote equality and opportunity for all women. In mid-July, the 157-member organization elected a new slate of officers, including President Lorna Taylor, the CEO of Tampa-based Premier Eye Care.

“It’s very simple,” Taylor tells Coffee Talk. “If we had the ERA, it would provide a layer of safety and protection to women. It’s been 100 years since women were granted the right to vote with Amendment 19, nearly 50 years since Title IX, yet women are still underrepresented in the C-suite, sports and government.”

Equal pay for men and women has long been a thorny issue, but even more so lately, when it was reported that members of the World Cup-winning U.S. women’s soccer team are paid, on average, four times less than their male counterparts who didn’t even qualify for the last World Cup. Such discrepancies could soon be a thing of the past.

“My first goal is to continue our efforts toward ratifying the ERA,” Taylor says. “For us, this is not a partisan issue. Equal pay is a smart business strategy.”


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