By Shanelle Matthews
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Two women in sports had significant "firsts" this week.
On April 20 U.S. race car driver Danica Patrick became the first woman to win an IndyCar Series event when she claimed victory in the Japan Indy 300 in Motegi. Patrick beat two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves by 5.86 seconds.
[See the victory win video at our website, logon to: http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/3578]
"Finally. This is a long time coming," said Patrick, according to the Detroit Free Press. In 2005 Patrick became the fourth woman to qualify for the Indianapolis 500. Patrick was named the Rookie of the Year for both the 2005 Indianapolis 500 and the IndyCar Series season.
Mexican golfer Lorena Ochoa became the first woman to win four consecutive Ladies Professional Golf Association tournaments in four consecutive weeks and is on pace to break the record for most wins in a single season, the Washington Post reported April 24. Sports analysts speculate that Ochoa will win a grand slam--the top four tournaments--before Tiger Woods does. Ochoa is currently ranked the No. 1 female golfer in the world and is the first golfer from Mexico--male or female--to be ranked at the top of the sport.
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One day after Equal Pay Day, April 22, the U.S. Senate defeated a wage bias bill to allow employees more time to file discrimination complaints against employers, the Los Angeles Times reported. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act would reverse a 2007 Supreme Court decision that made it more difficult for workers to sue their employers.
The bill passed the House in July 2007 but was halted in the Senate on Wednesday by a Republican filibuster and 60 votes could not be mustered to end it. Taking a break from the presidential campaign trail, both Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama voted for the bill. Sen. John McCain did not vote.
Women currently earn 77 cents for equal work for each dollar that a man earns, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. African America women earn 65 cents and Hispanic women 57 cents for each dollar earned by white men.
When you factor in family labor and time taken out of the work force for caregiving, however, the wage gap widens to 62 percent, according to a 2004 Institute for Women's Policy Research study. Looking at women's wages over a 15-year period, the study found that women earn only 38 cents for each male dollar.
"It doesn't only affect line workers like I was but professional people like doctors and university professors," Lilly Ledbetter, a former Goodyear employee who sued for wage bias, told the American Prospect. "It's not right, and it's high time for women to be paid equal."
Blanca Ovelar, a retired army general and the first woman to run for president in Paraguay, lost her bid on April 18, Reuters reported. The election also ended 61 years of rule for Ovelar's Colorado Party. Fernando Lugo of the February Revolutionary Party was elected by 41 percent of the vote.
Shanelle Matthews is a Women's eNews intern and a recent graduate of the Manship School of Mass Communications at Louisiana State University.
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