April 8 marked the annual Equal Pay Day, and served as a disappointing reminder that in a country that promises equality and fairness, women are still earning significantly less than their male counterparts.
Equal Pay Day marks how far into the next year a woman has to work to finally make what a man in her same position would have made at the end of the previous year.
In other words, it was not until April 8, 2014, that most women finally earned what the average man made by Dec. 31, 2013.
Unfortunately, a day aimed at creating public awareness of the issue still hasn’t been enough to end the wage gap in over a decade.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women who work full time still earn on average 77 cents for every dollar men earn in the same line of work.
The gap widens even more for women of color.
The National Women’s Law Center revealed that Black women tend to only make 64 cents to every dollar a white male makes, and Latina women even less, at 54 cents.
The wage gap between genders has become such a major issue that the president used his executive power to do something about it.
On Monday, President Obama signed two executive actions that will address the pay differences.
The executive order will prohibit employers from punishing employees for discussing their salaries with their co-workers – an act that could usually lead to the termination of that employee.
In addition to the executive order, the president also signed a presidential memorandum that will require contractors to report wage data to the Labor Department. The data is also required to include breakdowns of wages based on gender and race.
The executive actions are the president’s response to a less than responsive Congress that has remained nonchalance about the gender wage gap.
According to some conservatives, the gender wage gap is an imaginary issue that the left wing has created for the sake of gaining support from female and minority voters.
Republican National Press Secretary Kirsten Kukowski slammed the Paycheck Fairness Act as “a political ploy.”
The bill, which would make it illegal for employers to punish workers for discussing their wages with other employees, has been proposed twice in the past and failed to become law both times.
Conservatives argue that the gender wage gap has nothing to do with systematic inequality and instead has everything to do with the decisions women make throughout their lives.
The argument here is that women are not aggressive enough to negotiate salaries and push for raises. They also suggest that women make the decision to start families and it ultimately leaves them earning roughly $400,000 less than their male peers in their lifetimes.
Conservatives have also attacked the Democratic Party for pushing such legislation when women are still paid less than men in the White House as well.
The gap, however, is smaller, with women earning 88 cents to each dollar earned by men, and the presence of transparency on the issue allows women in the White House to have a better fighting chance when it comes to their push for equal pay.