Is equal pay or gender-based wage bias a problem in your workplace?
In case you missed it, June 10 marked the half-century anniversary of the Equal Pay Act, which prohibits gender-based wage discrimination in employment.
One might think that pay equity for women would have been reached after 50 years. Alas, this goal remains fleeting.
Historically, men have been paid more than women for doing the same or substantially equal work. And while the gender pay gap has closed over the years it nonetheless remains a persistent problem.
Gender-based pay inequality is not just a problem for women but also for entire families, especially those in which women are the sole “bread winners” or earn more than their spouses (which is more common today then ever).
Good News for Female Feds
The good news for Uncle Sam is that women working in the federal government earn more on the dollar compared to their private sector counterparts. In that sense — and for workforce diversity generally — feds are closer to creating a model workplace than is corporate America.
The bad news is that while feds fare better, a stubborn wage gap still exists. The federal sector gender wage gap is 11-cents on the dollar, while it’s 23-cents per dollar in the private sector.
Thus, more work needs to be done to bridge the pay gap for all working women. This will move us closer to gender equality and benefit the overall U.S. economy.
Facts About the Equal Pay Act
- The landmark civil rights statute was signed into law by President John F. Kennedy on June 10, 1963.
- The Department of Labor originally had jurisdiction over the Act, which was later transferred to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
- The Act prohibits unequal pay for men and women with jobs that require substantially equal skill, effort and responsibility and that are performed under similar conditions within the same establishment.
- Since the passage of the Equal Pay Act 50 years ago, the gender pay gap has decreased, but women still are paid an average of only about 77-cents for every dollar paid to men (private sector).
- The gap is even greater for women of color and for women with disabilities.
- As noted, the wage gap persists among federal employees, despite a formal job classification system which makes compensation much less subjective than it may be in some private sector contexts.
- A 2009 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) revealed an 11-cent wage gap between men and women in the federal workforce, 7-cents of which remains unexplained by factors typically used to justify pay differences such as experience, years of service, and education
White House Ceremony
President Obama remarked today during a ceremony at the White House:
- “When more women are bringing home the bacon, they shouldn’t just be getting a little bit of bacon…
- If they’re bringing home more of the income and that income is less than a fair share, that means that families have less to get by on, for child care or health care or gas or groceries…
- It makes it harder for middle-class families to save and retire…
- It leaves small businesses with customers who have less money in their pockets, which is not good for the economy.”
DYK? Equal Pay Task Force
- In 2010, President Obama created an interagency National Equal Pay Task Force.
- Check out the June 2013 report.
Further Federal Resources
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC):
- Department of Labor (DOL):
- Department of Justice (DOJ):
Blog Post: Civil Rights Division
Also Check Out: Equal Pay Day 2013
* Photo Credits: Associated Press (Monday’s White House Event with President Obama — above — and President Kennedy signing the Equal Pay Act 50 years ago — below)
* All views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only.