No one should fear discussing their wage with their employer. For too many women, though, this is the case.

While the facts are still murky around Jill Abramson’s removal from her post as executive editor at The New York Times, we know that leading up to her removal, she learned that she was paid less and received fewer benefits than her predecessor, and approached management to address the issue.

Ms. Abramson’s situation, unfortunately not unique, shines light on issues that should have been settled years ago – pay inequity and the lack of recourse for workers who experience discrimination.

Arguments that women experience a pay gap due to personal choices such as motherhood or not advocating for higher pay are just red herrings intended to distract from institutional bias. A study conducted by the American Association of University Women in 2012 demonstrated that, after only one year out of college, women make an average of 82 percent of their male counterparts.

These data are more disturbing considering that Maine’s senators, Angus King and Susan Collins, both voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act. This measure would prevent retaliation against employees who discuss their pay at work and impose penalties on employers who discriminate based on gender.

When American workers are already making too little, women and their families can’t afford a pay gap that leaves them less able than men to pay off student loans, save for retirement and more. It’s time that our communities and government get serious about fighting pay discrimination.

Molly Bogart

state co-chair of public policy, AAUW of Maine