Brother can you spare a dime? And a nickel and two pennies?

BOSTON MAYOR MARTIN WALSH has seen the light when it comes to the wage gap between men and women. The problem is how long he and others have been blinded by that lightbefore realizing they needed, and were in a position, to take action.

More than 50 years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, women, especially minorities, still struggle to close the disparity in salaries. In Boston, women earn an average of 83 cents for every dollar a man makes. Nationally, women earn 77 cents for each male dollar. But at least there’s beginning to be consensus about the issue.

Walsh, a late addition to the speakers at the Boston Women’s Venture Capital Summit on Tuesday, said after looking in the mirror, he was as big an offender as those in the private sector. Walsh raised the salaries of the women in his cabinet and launched an effort to get the city’s private employers to supply salary, gender, and race data for analysis by the city in exchange for a promise to keep it anonymous.

But even with Walsh’s initiative in his own office, the wage hikes still leave women in his cabinet earning nearly $27,000 less than those with an Adam’s apple. And it will take a lot more than instant raises to bridge that chasm.

According to a report issued last month by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in Washington, DC, the gender wage gap has shrunk since 1960. But if it continues on the pace it has over the last five decades, equality won’t happen until 2058, perhaps even later in some states.

The gap is even wider for women of color, according to the study, because of a variety of reasons ranging from limited access to advanced education and higher rates of poverty to racial discrimination.

Critics assert the oft-cited figures are simplistic and don’t take into account the disparities of choices in lifestyles, like taking leave or reducing work hours to bear and care for children, and career paths, such as teachers or nurses versus scientists and doctors, that women make as well as seniority. The Washington Post Fact Checker blog gives President Obama two “Pinocchios” on the scale of one to four for repeating the 77-cent figure from Census data without acknowledging the nuances.

A 2013 survey by Georgetown University is often cited by those who dispute the size of the gender wage gap. The survey shows nine of the top 10 occupations in salary, mostly in science and engineering, were dominated by men while nine of the bottom 10 in remuneration, mostly education, arts, and social work, were predominantly women-oriented. The critics argue women can earn just as much if they just changed their choices.

But proponents of taking affirmative action to close the divide say that is just the point, that women are relegated to lower-paying positions out of discrimination, glass ceilings, and the “old boys network” inherent in those occupations. They are forced to take the time off for childbearing and rearing because men are not expected to.

“We know that the wage gap continues to be an issue all across this nation, and it’s time to stop talking about it and start taking action,” Walsh told the summit.

–JACK SULLIVAN

 

BEACON HILL

The Baker administration continues to preview today’s scheduled release of the report of a panel reviewing the MBTA through leaks of selected pieces of the findings. Today’s focuses on the T’s debt, and argues that the long-standing claim that the agency has been saddled with crippling levels of Big Dig-related debt is largely untrue. (Boston Globe)

The Boston Herald says the T’s apparent failure to spend $2.2 billion allocated for capital improvements over the last five years would be even more troubling if it turns out to have included federal grants.

The Baker administration’s proposed early retirement incentive program for state workers is hitting a roadblock in the Senate, where a group of lawmakers says the plan is fiscally irresponsible. (Boston Globe)

Attorney General Maura Healey is pushing legislation with House Majority Leader Ron Mariano that would give her office stronger oversight of hospital mergers. (Associated Press)

State Senate President Stan Rosenberg says implementation of the state’s medical marijuana law has been a “total mess.” The fact that there is little appetite in the Legislature to consider full legalization of pot, he adds, means the measure will probably appear on the 2016 ballot. (Boston Herald)

The Cape Cod Times comes out against a bill offered by Rep. Louis Kafka, a Stoughton Democrat, that would legalize euthanasia.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Brockton Mayor Bill Carpenter presented results of a survey to city councilors that shows Brockton lags behind many same-sized and smaller cities in the state in the size of the police force. (The Enterprise)

Central Catholic High School is planning to sell some of its land to housing developers, a move that is rankling Methuen officials. (Eagle-Tribune)

OLYMPICS

Smith College economist Andrew Zimbalist, in a wide-ranging interview with CommonWealth, says the basic problem with the Boston 2024 design is that it is being “done in a way that is not economically possible.”

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

After a video surfaces that shows a white South Carolina police officer fatally shooting a fleeing unarmed black man in the back, officials charge the officer with murder. (Governing)

US Reps. Michael Capuano and Stephen Lynch both say House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi should step aside and let a new leader take over. (Greater Boston)

ELECTIONS

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the polarizing former chief of staff for President Obama,decisively wins a second term. (New York Times)

US Sen. Elizabeth Warren applauds an effort to convince Democratic candidates for president to adopt a progressive pledge. (Associated Press)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Is the Boston area heading toward another housing bubble? (Boston Globe)

Fidelity’s Abigail Johnson once tried to oust her father from the company’s top job, and now that she’s in charge she is quickly moving the company in directions her dad resisted. (Wall Street Journal)

Boston-based John Hancock will become the first life insurance company to offer discounts for customers who share their personal medical and lifestyle information and take steps to maintain their health. (New York Times)

Shirley Leung says former South Boston state senator Jack Hart may have the inside track to become the next head of the state convention center authority — but he shouldn’t. (Boston Globe)

Three new developers — two with local ties and one from Russia — have joined the effort toreboot the stalled $1.6 billion redevelopment of downtown Quincy. (Patriot Ledger)

The Berkshire Eagle argues that the message offered up by the new Stop Handgun Violence billboards was too clear for Clear Channel Outdoors in Boston, which decided to exit the anti-violence campaign.

A new report from the New England Council says the region should do more to nurture manufacturing. (Associated Press)

HEALTH CARE

Spaulding Hospital is closing down its rehab facility in Salem and putting more than 300 people out of work because of changes in federal Medicare regulations. (Salem News) Spaulding is affiliated with Partners HealthCare, which owns Salem and Union hospitals. (Item)

Physicians raise doubts about Blue Cross Blue Shield’s global payment plan in Massachusetts. (Medpage Today) Paul Levy has a comment on the article.

More women are childless than at any time since the government started keeping track. (Time)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

One of the two companies to win leases in a January auction for offshore wind development in the waters south of Martha’s Vineyard is transferring its rights to a Danish energy company. (Standard-Times)

Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station is taking its time fixing problems that date back almost a decade. (Cape Cod Times)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Plymouth District Attorney Timothy Cruz defended his office’s record on minorities and has asked for an outside investigation to look at emails between some of his current and former prosecutors that had racist overtones. (The Enterprise)

No federal civil rights charges will be filed in connection with the 2010 police killing of Easton resident D.J. Henry in Westchester County, New York. (Associated Press)

Vandals defaced the Fall River gravesites of Lizzie Borden and her family as a new television miniseries begins about the infamous murders. (Herald News)

The former executive director of the Southeastern Regional Transit Authority, testifying in the federal corruption trial of Dartmouth Selectman John George, who ran the region’s bus service, says George offered him the $95,000 a year position as a “no-show” job. (Standard-Times)

MEDIA

Fortune beefs up its tech coverage by hiring six reporters from Gigaom. (Fortune)