50 Years of The Equal Pay Act… Are We There Yet?

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This week our nation commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act, the landmark law that “required” equal pay for equal work for women, signed in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy. So, are we there yet? Well, not quite.

“The day that the bill was signed into law, women earned 59 cents for every dollar a man earned on average, today, it’s about 77 cents. So it was 59 and now it’s 77 cents. It’s even less, by the way, if you’re an African American or a Latina. So I guess that’s progress, but does anybody here think that’s good enough?” President Obama asked in remarks made at an event on Monday at the White House. Um, that would be a resounding NO!

Over the past 50 years a lot has changed for women in the workplace, but despite the milestones achieved, women still face significant obstacles to parity in their paychecks. Of the many reasons cited for the snail-paced progression, is that the majority of women are still working in many of the lowest paying fields and jobs.

In an effort to tackle the issue, in 2010, President Obama established the National Equal Pay Task Force, which identifies and addresses the challenges to gender pay disparities, as well as cracks down on violations of equal pay laws. Additionally, and we think most importantly, they develop opportunities for training and education for careers in what are considered to be male dominated industries, including, but not limited to jobs in the STEM fields.

Oh, and FYI…the gender pay gap for federal employees is 11 cents. Something for the private sector to take note of and hopefully aspire to.

For more information on the past and where we are headed in the future, you can read the National Equal Pay Task Force’s progress report here and check out this new video released by the White House.