OK, I know this will make it clear I don't know much about the ERA...but with the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act in place protecting women from discrimination, what rights or protections, exactly, would the ERA add that would impact the workplace?
I think that the ERA is absolutely necessary. Discriminination laws are great, but they are not enough. Without a constitutional amendment, discrimination laws can be watered down, misinterpreted or even ignored by courts (trust me, this happens). The ERA would give women a constitutional foot to stand on when challenging discrimination - and the fact that women still only make like 77 cents to every dollar men make!
There is a new article on BLR's compensation site on the topic of the gender pay gap. The article is only for subscribers to the site, but it's an interview with the author of a book on the topic. She says that the gender pay gap is 23 cents and has been since the early 1990s, where it's "been stuck for almost 15 years" despite the "economic boom years of the late 1990s". So the problem is obviously not going to fix itself.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
The author--her name is Evelyn Murphy--says that women "have a responsibility to themselves and to each other, to instigate change." She says " It’s about women talking about these issues, figuring out whether you’re paid fairly or not, gathering your allies, and going to the top.” (She gave some examples of women who did this and opened the eyes of top managment.)
She also says that HR should be an agent for change--that they should "carry back to the CEOs and management the importance of this issue as a competitive advantage." She explains that "When a woman knows she is being treated fairly and respected in the workplace, it’s a very powerful motivator for her. Employers who can advertise that they pay women fairly would have a very powerful driver for both recruiting and retaining good workers, and for developing them."