Speaking at the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act on Monday at the White House, President Obama stood before a backdrop of smiling women and urged CEOs in the United States to treat women fairer and equally, especially when it comes to wages.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 was signed into law by President Kennedy and was aimed that eliminating wage discrepancies between genders. The legislation essentially prohibited employers from discriminating their employees based on sex. Fifty years later, it is argued that women are still being discriminated against in the workplace.
President Obama explained in his prepared remarks that women used to earn 59 cents an hour when the bill was passed and now they earn 77 cents – but, according to the president, it’s less for black and Latin women.
“You wouldn’t like it if you were forced to work every fourth day without pay. Men would be complaining about that. They wouldn’t think that was equal or fair,” said Obama. ”So this is the 21st century. It’s time to close that gap.”
During his time in office, the president signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, established the White House Council on Women and Girls, created the National Equal Pay Task Force and urged the Congress to approve the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Although the intentions are considered to be noble, his own White House has been failing on paying women as equal to the men. According to the Washington Free Beacon, women earned a median salary 18 percent less than men in 2011 – this trend also extends back to the days when Obama was an Illinois Senator in 2008. The president didn’t touch upon this at the media conference, but he did confirm that there was more work to be done to address the wage gap.
“Now is the time to make sure businesses offer men and women the flexibility to be good employees and good parents,” the president explained. “CEOs who are out there, if you want a first-class company that is tapping into the talents and resources of all your employees, make sure that you’re putting in place systems so that they all feel like they’re being treated fairly and equally. It’s a simple principle and it’s a powerful one.”
For many years, the issue of a gender-based wage gap has been analyzed quite frequently and many conservative and libertarian economists and statisticians argue that women receiving lower wages and salaries isn’t based on discrimination but rather other variables, such as the occupations they choose, how long they have been out of the workforce, educational levels and even down to their marital status (single women and never married women).
Research has suggested that women tend to work in industries that have better flexibility schedules, while women were more likely to spend a considerable amount of time out of the workforce to look after children. In the end, these choices play significant factors in their wage levels for both men and women. When economists and statisticians impose these factors in their research then the gender gap becomes eviscerated.
Economist Thomas Sowell has written and spoken extensively on the topic. In the video clip below, Sowell spoke with host William F. Buckley Jr. in the 1981 television show “Firing Line.” In the interview, he cited data which showed women who worked the exact same amount of years with the exact same education in their line of work are actually making more money each year than their male counterparts.
“When you compare women and men in the same occupations with the same skills, education, hours of work, and many other factors that go into determining pay, the differences in incomes shrink to the vanishing point – and, in some cases, the women earn more than comparable men,” Sowell wrote in a column last year.
This Economic Collapse News blog post is also helpful in the matter.