All women deserve respect

I was pleased to see Melissa E. Mishcon's commentary, "Swim like a girl? You wish," (Friday). As a parent and teacher, I have been disturbed by the continued elevation of male accomplishments over and against those of girls and women.

The commentary's accurate critique of "female gender still being used as an insult" missed an even larger opportunity to challenge the dismissal of the accomplishments of women of color. In every example, there are added implications for females of color through attacks on their looks, supposed attitudes, and temperament.

Witness the criticism of gold-medal gymnast Gabby Douglas at two Olympics, the ongoing commentary about Serena Williams' body and behavior, and the nameless second billing of Simone Manuel by the San Jose Mercury News ("Olympics: Michael Phelps shares historic night with African-American") after she became the first black woman to win an individual gold medal in swimming.

The time is long overdue for all women, not just white women, to get the respect they deserve.

|Deborah Bambino, Philadelphia,

Equal pay for the same work

The Equal Pay Act was signed into law in 1963, just one year before the Civil Rights Act. Sadly, after more than 53 years, the commonsense principle of equal pay for equal work continues to elude women, especially African American women.

Aug. 23 marked Black Women's Equal Pay Day, or how far into the year an African American woman must work to earn what a white man in the same job earned the previous year. In other words, black women work for 20 months to make the same amount white men make in 12.

African American women make only 63 cents for every dollar made by a man; white women make 79 cents of every dollar. In 40 percent of households with children, women are the sole or primary breadwinners.

Momentum to fix the imbalance is building. Massachusetts this month enacted a comprehensive pay-equity law that can be used as a model for other states. I am working with State Rep. Maria Donatucci (D., Phila.), to draft a similar law for Pennsylvania. As in Massachusetts, our bill would prohibit the payment of different wages to employees based on their gender for the same or comparable job.

Women must pay the same for food, shelter, school, and utilities as men. It's way past time to pay them for doing the same job.

|Donna Bullock, state representative, 195th District, Philadelphia