May 192016
Danae Columbus

Danae Columbus

Republican State Rep. Kenny Havard’s proposed “joke” amendment to Senate Bill 468 mandating that strippers be no older than 28 years of age or weigh no more than 160 pounds is just the latest example that many male elected officials still haven’t figured out that women deserve respect, let alone equal pay for equal work.

State Reps. Julie Stokes, Nancy Landry, Helena Moreno and many others immediately attacked Harvard. But it was Stokes’ comment that several male legislators have told her women should be “barefoot and pregnant” that bothered women the most. Moreno also acknowledged that Louisiana women are treated differently in the workplace than men.

Legislators have a chance to make amends by supporting Senate Bill 254, the equal pay act, which will be heard today in the House Labor Committee. Louisiana is last in the nation in what women earn compared to men – 65 cents to the dollar. African-American women earn even less – 48 cents to the dollar earned by non-Hispanic white men.

Women are the breadwinners in two-thirds of Louisiana families, the only breadwinners in about 40 percent of families, and are struggling to make it in a tough economy, according to women leaders like Aylin Maklansky who are supporting the legislation.

Highly educated women have the widest earnings gap, according to a new Wall Street Journal evaluation of 446 major occupations. “Women in elite jobs earn well below men, with professions such as doctors, compensation managers and personal financial advisers among those showing the widest earnings gaps,” reported the Journal.

For example, male physicians working full time earn $210,000 annually on average while female physicians earn $135,000 – almost 40 percent less. The wage gap for personal financial advisers is extremely similar.

Other occupations with a significant wage gap include insurance sales agents, podiatrists, agricultural managers, engine and other machine assemblers, aircraft pilots and flight engineers, and financial managers and clerks.

It is well know that women often put their families first above careers which is a trade-off that women gladly make. Unfortunately, ingrained workforce cultures can also impede a woman’s earnings.

Donald Trump’s well-documented private and public conduct with women, described in great detail by the New York Times recently, should cause alarm among women of all ages and political affiliations. As the various factions in the Republican Party — including Phil Robertson — slowly embrace Trump, support among Republican women will continue to grow.

While Trump’s campaign has not formally addressed equal pay, during an October campaign stop in New Hampshire, Trump signaled his position by saying “You’re gonna make the same if you do as good a job.” Would Trump say the same thing to a man? Many women — rightly so — were probably insulted by those remarks.

The national Republican Party is giving Trump cover on this issue by stressing that current law makes it illegal for employers to pay women less for equal work while at the same time acknowledging that more work must be done.

Trump must win over more women of both political parties to win the race for President in November. With the most recent poll giving him a three-point lead over presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, it appears that women are looking at factors beyond a candidate’s sex. It will take more women elected officials at every level of government to ensure women in the workplace and in the home are treated fairly and with respect.


Attorney General Jeff Landry’s discomfort with transgender youth using bathrooms that match their new identities rather than their birth certificates should eventually lessen as transgender people gain more acceptance. There is no evidence that a transgender youth has ever committed a crime while using the bathroom. These kids deserve public acceptance and the support they need. Forty years ago, a prominent New Orleans publication refused a story I proposed on gay Mardi Gras on the basis that the subject was too controversial, while today the topic is widely discussed. Times continue to change and public sentiment with it.

Danae Columbus has had a 30-year career in public relations, including stints at City Hall and the Dock Board. She currently works for the Orleans Parish School Board. Among the recent candidates who have been represented by her public relations firm are City council members Stacy Head and Jared Brossett, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell.

  • jexni

    I suppose if one is Femalecentric one could take a joke about strippers and expand that to being an insult of all women in general; and then somehow stretch that joke to having some relationship to the complex arguments surrounding equal pay for “equivalent” work. But you have to pretty much set aside logic and reason to accomplish that task.

  • KurtB

    Sad that the author here doesn’t respect men or people that don’t want grown men urinating next to their daughters. Twisted world we live in today.

  • Steelady

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. Sad to see Louisiana legislators still making stupid, inappropriate comments in a public forum that women taxpayers are paying for.

    This is nothing new – it’s been going on for decades – what I can’t figure out is why the women of Louisiana keep putting up with this garbage and sending these jerks to Baton Rouge? Do you really want someone like this guy speaking on your behalf?? Same with Trump – really??

    Wake up ladies!!!