Even 50 years after President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law to prohibit wage discrimination, women still aren’t being paid equally. At the current rate, women would have to wait another 45 years to close the gap with men, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR).
Today President Obama is signing two executive orders to promote equal pay for women, with the intention of closing the salary gap with men. One will forbid federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss the amount of money they make. The other will be a presidential memorandum requiring contractors to submit data to the government proving the compensation that they provide to employees by sex and race.
For Latinas, these presidential initiatives are one more step in getting closer not only to men’s salaries, but to the salaries of other women: Latinas receive median weekly earnings of $541, even lower than the $722 earned by white women and the $606 earned by African-American women, according to IWPR data.
On an average, women who work full time earn only 77 cents for every dollar that a man earns. The gap is even worse for Latinas and African-American women. An analysis by the National Partnership for Women & Families (NPWF) of a Census Bureau report found that the median yearly pay for women with a full-time job is $11,084 lower than for men. The situation is particularly serious for the more than 15.1 million families for which women are the only breadwinners. And 31% of these families are living below the poverty line.
These executive orders will only apply to companies that have contracts with the federal government. However, the president’s actions must serve as a platform and set the political tone to increase the pressure on Congress to enact similar measures nationwide and in the private sector, especially in a year of midterm elections where the female vote is already being courted for the road to the White House in 2016.
It is a priority and healthy for our society to offer equal pay that contributes to the progress of families in the U.S. We hope all companies around the country, both public and private, follow President Obama’s example.