Some Things Change With Time … While the Gender Wage Gap Remains Relatively the Same

It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years since President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the first piece of legislation to become law during his presidency. Back in 2009, we celebrated the law’s potential for turning the rallying cry of “equal pay for equal work” into a reality.

But sadly – as  President Obama’s announcement today to hold companies accountable for paying women and people of color less makes evident – the momentum created by Ledbetter’s namesake legislation hasn’t moved the equal pay needle all that much. 

Who was Lilly Ledbetter? In 2007, the Supreme Court threw out a jury’s verdict that she suffered pay discrimination during her nearly 20 years as one of the only female managers at an Alabama Goodyear Tire plant. In a 5-4 opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito, the court found that Ledbetter waited too long to sue, even though she didn’t know about the disparity between her pay and that of her male peers until she was close to retirement. 

The public outcry was immediate. Regardless of whether their collars are white, pink, or blue, working Americans know the reality of how pay discrimination happens.  Paychecks are taboo topics. Trying to find out whether you’re paid less than the person sitting next to you isn’t easy — and in some workplaces, it can even get you fired. 

But even though Congress acted quickly to fix the court’s mistake, little has changed for working women. Women still make on average just 79 cents for every dollar men do — with African American women earning only 60 cents and Latinas just 55 cents.

There are many reasons for the gender wage gap. These include women being paid less than men for the same or comparable jobs, job segregation in which women are concentrated in the lowest-paying fields, and pay reductions due to pregnancy and caregiving responsibilities. A major impediment to women gaining equal pay is companies’ lack of transparency in their salary scales and retaliation against employees who discuss their salary. 

Obama has done what he can with executive orders. In July 2014, he made it illegal for federal contractors to retaliate against workers for discussing their pay, and he required those employers to regularly report to the Department of Labor its compensation figures, broken down by gender and race.

And some members of Congress have continued to fight on, introducing the Paycheck Fairness Act every year since 2007. This federal bill would strengthen current law to make it possible for workers to know where they stand in comparison to their colleagues by prohibiting retaliation against workers who discuss their salaries, while making it easier to prove discrimination — even if they have different job titles. For example, a “housekeeper” wouldn’t make less than a “janitor” for doing comparable work.

And several states are stepping into the breach as well, enacting stronger wage protections for women than those available under federal law. Indeed, legislators in approximately 24 states this week introduced bills to close the gender wage gap. Advocates in several of those states are now working together as part of the Equal Pay Today Campaign, to coordinate state-by-state advocacy and build momentum towards gaining equal pay throughout the country.

Read the Equal Pay Today! Campaign Platform, here.

We must continue working to pass these state laws, but women’s economic security should not depend on where they live. We cannot continue with this patchwork approach to women’s — and their families’ — well-being. Ultimately, we need a federal solution that will ensure women’s equal pay and finally close the gender wage gap. 

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Blair Schirmer

Sigh. There is no meaningful gender wage gap. That has been debunked endlessly. Even as full time workers women work fewer hours than men. Women more than men choose job satisfaction over salary. Women average shorter commutes, and go into less well-paying specialties in their fields.

Goldbach Law Group

That is absolutely right, I support gender wage gap. The reality is women work less because of the household responsibilities. Former President Obama did a great job by passing the law "Fair Pay Act" on this way, we can easily identify who are not complying and companies may face charges if they don't follow this law. To be fairly treated in the work place is very important for women all over the world. Sad to say, we are all not the same and we should continue to fights back on women's discrimination for unfairly treatment.


I support restrictions against retaliation by employers for sharing salary information. However, please stop citing the "women earn 79% of the wages of men" statistic as it is very misleading. When controlling for occupation and amount of hours worked, women earn about 5% less then men. That's still bad, we don't need to use overbroad and misleading statistics.


That extra 5% can be easily be factored away if you look at the fact that men go to more dangerous places than women, men move more than women for a job and men tend to have more consistent years in the workforce than women. Plus there is the margin of error. Anyway, single women right out of college make about 8% more than single men right out of college.

A. Persons

Here's the problem, even when most know, they can't do a thing about it.

You have to be rich to afford an attorney. The EEOC and state agencies don't do anything.


Women average shorter commutes, and go into less well-paying specialties in their fields.

Sgt. Marcus

A lovely gal at my work place is employed as a desk recipient. While we both took Oath and work a dangerous job, I am out on patrol and she asked for paperwork duty. Now we are at the bar when she tells me that she is now pushing to get a raise and when i asked her how much she was going for she simply replied, "As much as you guys out in the field get, why can't i be paid like you?" I was very shocked at this but she is serious to go for it. The next day she got her pay raise and was making .59 cent more than me. I was so furious that day that I couldn't believe what has happened before my very own eyes! The system has become so embalmed by women everywhere making claims and pointing their finger at anyone for the slightest hint at going against women's rights. They are now so above men that a desk recipient is now making more money than a man that risks his life everytime I stop a vehicle or make an arrest.


Don't believe that men earn more than women. Here are women in 2015 who make millions & earn more than most men do-Adele (Adele Laurie Blue Adkins), Ariana Grande, Selena Marie Gomez, Lady Gaga, Katy E. Perry, Demi Lovato (Demetria Devonne Lovato), Beyonce, etc. These women make millions & more than most men including White men. Then why do they keep saying men earn more than women?


OK, there are Whites like billionaire DJ Trump & you can name actors who make millions. But there are many actresses. Athletes such as in NFL (mostly Black men), NBA, MMA fighteres make alot of money, but most of them don't earn millions after their athletic careers end, unless it's advertising ads. Though NFL players earn less than the White owners, most people will know the NFL players & it's NFL players who in addition to making alot of money get alot of women. Musicians can still make alot of money even after they peak out from royalties, etc. You haven't disproven my idea that the pay wage gap is wrong.


Women are more likely to take years off work to raise kids. Black & Hispanic women are more likely to be housewives, though there are White housewives. I don't believe it's discrimination, otherwise how do singers Demi D. Lovato & Selena Marie Gomez make millions in 2015 with both 23 years old in 2015? Also money is not everything in life because not every1 who has money are happy. . Mostly White NFL owners make millions more than the mostly Black NFL players, but NFL players would be happier because they get fame & more women than the mostly White owners get, so money isn't everything.


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