Equal Pay for Equal Work

women attending forbes women's summit

Despite the Equal Pay Act of 1963, women still experience a discrepancy in pay compared to their male counterparts. As more and more women work their way up the ranks in their careers, their compensation does not continue to increase as it would for a male employee. Today, women make up close to 50 percent of the US labor force, and the livelihoods of their families are affected by this gap in pay. Even though women are doing the same jobs as men, as of 2014, they earn 79 percent of what a man would typically earn (whitehouse.gov, 2016). 


While the gap in pay between genders has decreased from a 41 percent variance in the 1960s to a 21 percent difference today, it is still a fight women need to speak out about. If this problem goes unaddressed, women’s pay will not catch up to what men make until the year 2059 (CNN.com, 2016). For this reason, leaders and activists such as Lilly Ledbetter, Eva Smith, and Chitra Anand shared their thoughts on the importance of gender equality in the work place at the 2016 Forbes Women’s Summit. Watch the video above to hear their thoughts.

Almost twenty years ago, The Paycheck Fairness Act was first introduced with the intention to help fix issues that have been found in the Equal Pay Act over the years, as well as to ensure that employers do not take complaints out on their employees. The Act would also acknowledge businesses who currently practice equal pay and assist small businesses in implementing these policies. The Paycheck Fairness Act continues to be a topic of debate in Congress and has been reintroduced at least nine times over the past several years. Many have not supported the Paycheck Fairness Act because they think the Equal Pay Act already covers the issue, or they believe the Paycheck Fairness Act would make it more challenging to truly compensate someone based on their skills and experience.

Even though there hasn’t been much progress on passing the Paycheck Fairness Act, and pay discrepancies between genders still exist, a Fair Pay Restoration Act was passed in 2009. Lilly Ledbetter, a former employee and now activist, brought this topic to the forefront with her case against Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in 2007. This case inspired the Fair Pay Restoration Act, which ensures victims of unequal pay have an opportunity to challenge this type of discrimination without capping the amount of time they have to file a complaint.

Written by Amanda Tomchak, Associate Director of Student Acquisition Marketing.

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