Today is National Equal Pay Day. A day originated in 1996 by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) to serve as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men’s and women’s wages.
When the Equal Pay Act of 1963 was signed into law, women earned 59 cents for every dollar earned by men. Today, women still earn an average of only about 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. This discrimination exists even in women who have equal skills, educational background and professional experience to that of men. It is clear that something must be done to account for this salary disparity, however not much has been done in recent times.
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was introduced in Congress in 2009 as a direct response to the Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. lawsuit and Supreme Court Case. This was passed by the 111th US Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 29, 2009. In September 2010, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act to improve on past progress and help close the pay gap. This bill gained support from Women’s Rights groups and support from the mainstream public. However, Republicans put up strong opposition to the bill and were ultimately able to defeat the bill.
I believe this bill does much to advance the rights of women and decrease the pay gap and should be passed.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) op-ed about why she supports the bill: Paycheck Fairness: Progress for America’s Women and Economic Security For the Middle Class. The Heritage Foundation’s (a conservative think-tank) reasons for opposition to the bill: What Is the Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA).
Read President Obama’s statement and proclamation about National Equal Pay Day here: WhiteHouse.gov: Presidential Proclamation–National Equal Pay Day