During his inaugural speech yesterday, President Obama criticized the gender pay gap, which results in women making 77 cents for every $1 earned by men. “Our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts,” he said.
The gender pay gap has barely budged over the last few decades, even as more women have moved into the ranks of higher-paying professions. The average female doctor, for instance, loses $350,000 to the pay gap.
The gap also hits women right out of college; after one year on the job market, women already earn less than men for doing the same job. In her lifetime, the average woman loses enough in wages to feed a family of four for 37 years.
Obama has already signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. But a larger step towards pay equity could be taken via the Paycheck Fairness Act, which closes loopholes in federal pay discrimination law and implements stronger penalties for employers who discriminate against women. Senate Republicans blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act last year, blasting it as a “war on free enterprise.”
Lawmakers in both the House and Senate plan to reintroduce the Paycheck Fairness Act in the 113th Congress.