President Barack Obama; Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), the longest-serving woman in the U.S. senate; House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi; and other Democrats recognized Equal Pay Day at the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum in D.C. on Tuesday.
Equal Pay Day is a date that symbolizes the amount of time it takes women's pay to catch up with men's pay from the year prior. Women had to work up until April 12 just to earn what a man earned in 2015.
President Obama designated the new Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument, which will protect the Sewall-Belmont House that has served as the headquarters for the National Woman's Party since 1929. Alva Belmont and Alice Paul were figures in the suffrage and women's rights movements.
"Today the typical woman who works full time earns 79 cents for every dollar the typical man makes," President Obama said. "The gap is even wider for women of color. The typical Black woman makes only 60 cents, a Latino woman 55 cents, for every dollar that a white man earns."
The American Association of University Women's (AAUW) "The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap" examines the issues that have led to the 79 percent statistic.
The pay gap has narrowed since the 1970s because of women's progress in education and workforce participation and men's wages increasing at a slower rate. However, "progress has stalled in recent years, and the pay gap does not appear likely to go away on its own."
Among full-time workers in 2014, Latina, Black, American Indian and Native Hawaiian women had lower median annual earnings compared with white and Asian American women. But Black, Latina, American Indian and Native Hawaiian women experienced a smaller gender pay gap compared with men in the same group than did white and Asian American women.
|Women's earning as a percentage of men's earnings within race/ethnicity||Women's earnings as a percentage of white men's earnings|
|Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander||88%||62%|
*From AAUW, based on median earnings of full-time, year-round workers ages 16 and older.
The AAUW suggests companies conduct salary audits to monitor and address gender-based pay differences, and that women learn strategies to better negotiate for equal pay.
According to Robin H. Sangston, chief compliance officer of Cox Communications (No. 17 on the 2015 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity), who is also chair of the company's Women's Employee Resource Group, a trait women must have is confidence.
"A man will promote himself as qualified for a promotion even if he only meets some of the criteria, while a woman won't seek the promotion unless she feels confident that she meets all of the criteria," Sangston told DiversityInc. "It ultimately comes down to confidence. Whether it is because women undervalue themselves or because women are more inclined to want to be perceived as likable, they tend to negotiate weakly, or not at all, on behalf of themselves."
President Obama said to value fairness, the U.S. should be a level playing field where everyone who works hard gets a chance to succeed.
"It's the idea that whether you're a high school teacher, a business executive, or a professional soccer player, or tennis player, your work should be equally valued and rewarded," he said.
The president made reference to professional soccer players as in March five high-profile players of the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team, Carli Lloyd, Hope Solo, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn, filed a federal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) accusing the U.S. Soccer Federation of wage discrimination.
In reference to tennis, also in March, Raymond Moore, CEO and tournament director of the BNP Paribas Open, resigned from his position following his sexist comments about women tennis players. A debate of equal pay was included in the controversy.
Novak Djokovic, ranked world No. 1 in men's singles tennis by ATP, said in an interview on March 20 he believes men deserve a greater monetary reward as their ticket sales and viewing statistics are greater. Meanwhile, No. 1-ranked women's tennis player Serena Williams defended equal pay.
"If I have a daughter who plays tennis and also have a son that plays tennis, I wouldn't say that my son deserves more because he is a man," she said.
President Obama and Democratic lawmakers have announced equal pay proposals. According to The Associated Press, Republicans who control the House and Senate have "announced no plans to act on legislation addressing pay inequity." But some GOP lawmakers are focusing on the issue.
"To say that Republicans don't care about equal pay, that's just ludicrous that anybody even says that," said Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), who is pushing a bill that will allow employees to share wage information. "Everybody cares about equal pay. That's a value that we all share."