AAUW Pushes Congress, President to Take Action This Equal Pay Day

April 03, 2013



Amy Becker


Paycheck Fairness Act, Executive Order Would Advance Fight for Fair Pay

WASHINGTON — The American Association of University Women (AAUW) will mark Equal Pay Day on Tuesday, April 9, by urging Congress and President Barack Obama to take action on pay equity. AAUW research shows that the pay gap still exists when you compare women and men just one year out of college, even within the same major and field.

To address this pernicious problem, Congress must pass the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 84/H.R. 377), a legislative fix to the nearly 50-year-old Equal Pay Act. Among other provisions, the Paycheck Fairness Act would protect employees from retaliation if they share their wages or ask about employers’ wage practices and would implement stronger deterrents designed to stop discrimination before it starts.

“The wage gap has barely budged in the 15-plus years Congress has been considering the Paycheck Fairness Act,” said Lisa Maatz, AAUW director of public policy and government relations. “Clearly this problem is not going away on its own. Neither market forces nor current laws are strong enough to motivate employers to pay the same wage for the same job, regardless of gender. Congress has already squandered several opportunities to pass this important legislation. Given women’s political clout, Congress would be foolish to waste another opportunity.”

As a more immediate step, AAUW also asks the president — who has been vocal in his support for equal pay for equal work — to address part of the Paycheck Fairness Act now through executive order. The executive order would ban federal contractors from firing or otherwise retaliating against workers who share salary information and wage practices.

“We will continue to fight for the Paycheck Fairness Act in Congress, but we’re pushing the president to make immediate progress where we can,” Maatz said. “Change has to happen for women to be paid fairly, and it can start with the thousands of contractors and companies that do business with the federal government and who are paid with taxpayer dollars.”

The timing of Equal Pay Day this year brings with it a sense of urgency for Congress and the president to act. Both sequestration and Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) House-passed budget disproportionately slash programs that help women and their families. Women already earn less on average, and now programs they depend on to make ends meet are being cut.

“Women were an important voting bloc in the 2012 election, and pay inequity was a key rallying point, but our policies are still frozen in time,” said AAUW Executive Director Linda D. Hallman, CAE. “Equal Pay Day must not be another occasion for politicians to use the same rhetoric with no follow-through. AAUW expects action, and our country expects action. ”

AAUW branches across the United States will engage in community education and public awareness activities around Equal Pay Day. AAUW has also launched a new website, fightforfairpay.org, a one-stop shop for everything you need to know about the wage gap and our nationwide campaign to close it.

AAUW’s recent wage gap analysis, The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap, is featured on fightforfairpay.org. The Simple Truth breaks down the gender pay gap by state, race/ethnicity, education, and age. It shows that for workers ages 20–24, the pay gap between women and men is already 7 percent. It widens as women enter prime working years, to a staggering 24 percent gap for full-time workers ages 45–54.

Also on fightforfairpay.org is AAUW’s newly created salary calculator. The calculator uses the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau to show the average earnings for women and men by major and job in the first two decades after college graduation. The calculator is intended to be a helpful tool for choosing a college major and career.


Elizabeth Owens By:   |   April 03, 2013