Equal Pay Day: Will President Obama's Executive Orders Close the Wage Gap?

4 years ago

I raise my three-quarters full glass for Equal Pay Day! April 8 is how far into the year women must work to earn what their male counterparts earned in the previous year. But how do you know if you are one of those women being paid less than a man doing the same job?

Today, President Obama signed two executive actions to make it easier for some to find out if they’re being paid fairly. The first law protects federal contractors from being punished for discussing their pay rate. The second launches a study to collect data about the federal contractor salaries — and to break that information down by gender and race.

Woman with coins, Image Credit: Shutterstock

Because even thought the Lily Ledbetter Act Fair Pay Act was passed five years ago, that law simply gives female workers a better framework to seek recourse from their employers; and in order to do so, they will probably need access to wage information. That's what the President’s new laws provide.

However, there are still many limitations. The executive orders only apply to companies that do business with the government.

And studies have shown that the gender pay gap is even wider for some women of women of color. According to the American Association of University Women, Latina women only make 53 percent and black women only 64 percent of white men’s earnings. Read what Viviana Hurtado has to say about this at The Wise Latina Club.

That’s not even counting the gender gap in unpaid housework. Liz O’Donnell of Hello Ladies writes this on Moms Rising:

"Women face another gender-based gap at home: the housework gap. According to the Pew Research Center and studies from several universities, women spend between 30 and 60 percent more time on housework and childcare than men do, regardless of who in the household is working. And these inequities at home have a direct and negative correlation on inequities in the work place."

Over at Naked D.C., Emily Zanotti argues that the pay gap is simply a reflection of men and women being employed in different fields, with different pay scales.

"You can explain the general pay gap, of course, by noting that women are conditioned to go into less demanding fields than men, that women are expected to work less hours and do the lion’s share of domestic work in addition to their jobs, take more vacations and take time off mid-career to have children, thereby reducing their chances of being promoted to higher levels all of which are distinct cultural problems, but ultimately, not ones that are addressed by a bill that mandates 'paycheck fairness.'"

What do you think about the gender pay gap? Will President Obama's Executive Orders help close the gap? Tell me your thoughts in the comments.

News and Politics Editor Grace Hwang Lynch blogs about raising an Asian mixed-race family at HapaMama.

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