President Barack Obama is no stranger to the topic of fair pay – he even made mention of the matter during his most recent State of the Union address.
At one point, he went so far as to say that many office policies concerning gender “belong in a ‘Mad Men’ episode.”
“Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns,” he said during the January 28 address. “That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work.”
Hardly a “basket of kisses” from the POTUS on the present conditions for women in the American workplace, as Peggy Olson would say.
Now, the Obama administration is replacing his words with actions – the White House has announced plans to elevate awareness of economic issues that specifically affect working women throughout the United States.
According to the Associated Press, President Barack Obama launched a campaign Wednesday that is designed to remedy the continued lack of parity in pay for men and women occupying similar roles. The announcement came just after the Council of Economic Advisers released a report on the matter, while he met with a gathering of Democratic female lawmakers.
Though the report’s findings indicate that women have taken significant strides toward occupying more jobs in male-dominated fields – and are earning more college degrees than their male counterparts – women continue to receive lesser salaries for comparable work.
“… [W]omen are still making 77 cents on [the] dollar — including when they enter into these high-paying professions, they’re still making less money,” Obama was quoted as saying during the meeting by the AP.
A separate report released by American Express OPEN – the Fall 2013 Small Business Monitor – revealed that the issue affects female business owners as well. While annual salaries of women entrepreneurs have risen to an average of $63,000, the average male business owner earns $71,400 each year.
The POTUS also touched upon his ongoing efforts to increase the federal minimum wage, connecting the two concepts by noting that women hold a majority of low-income jobs.
“We know that women continue to be disproportionately represented in low-wage professions, which means that something like an increase in the federal minimum wage is going to have a disproportionate impact on them,” Obama said. “And women are still the ones that are carrying the greatest burden when it comes to trying to balance family and work because of inadequate child care or the inability to get paid leave for a sick child or an ailing parent.”
The AP learned that, as part of the administration’s campaign to bridge the earning gap between men and women (and in an effort to address other issues specific to female employees and employers alike), White House officials will be appearing in a series of topical events throughout the country.
These events will lead up to the Working Families Summit, which will be held June 23.
Obama’s commitment to improving economic conditions for female employees began with his first act as President, when he signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. This amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 allowed a 180-day statute of limitations for taking legal action against pay discrimination to be renewed with each new paycheck negatively affected by such a bias.