President Obama reiterated in last weeks State of the Union Address that women deserve equal pay for equal work. He gave mention to some statistical figures that do sound quit shocking, stating “women make up about half of the workforce, but still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.” At the sound of these stats, it seems shocking, but if you dig further, the margin is actually quite smaller. This statistic is generated from a broad brush that compares overall male and female pay.
The 77-cent figure – which Obama used on the campaign trail in 2012 – stems from a 2011 report by the U.S. Census Bureau that found that in 2010, females overall made 77 percent of what males made. That means all workers regardless of what jobs they hold – not one worker in one particular job compared with another worker in the same job.
Anne York, who studies gender equality in the workplace as an associate professor at Meredith College School of Business in Raleigh, N.C., said the 77 cent pay disparity figure masks a variety of factors as to why women – on average – don’t make as much as men. “We have no definitive answers, but a lot of reasons,” York said. Whether by tradition or personal choice, women often seek lower-paying occupations than men – say, home health aide vs. neurosurgeon – and often trade earnings for flexibility at work, York said.
A recent McClatchy review of White House salaries showed what the salary per dollar comparison is for those working in the White House using the same analysis that reaches the “77 cents per dollar.” The results may shock you – women working in the White House make 91 cents for every dollar a man makes in the White House.
The White House goes on to defend their payroll by stating that the analysis does not measure pay between men and women doing the same work in the same job position. White House aides go on to defend the President, overwhelmingly stating that “the President’s employees with the same position make the same money.” A House Spokesman, Eric Schultz, said the White House pays mean and women in equivalent roles, equivalent salaries.
President Obama has supported multiple bills that encourage and help regulate equal pay in the workforce. The President celebrated the fifth anniversary of the first bill he signed into law, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which he has stated helps protect a woman’s right to fair pay. The President has also supported the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would require businesses to show that wage discrepancies between men and women are not based on gender, it also bands retaliation against workers who reveal their wages.