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Public Statements

Support of Equal Pay Day

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, today is Equal Pay Day, the day in April recognized annually to signify the point into a year that a woman must work to earn what a man made the previous year.

-This means that on average, a woman needed to work from January 1, 2012 until April 9, 2013 to earn the same salary that a comparable man earned in 2012 alone.
More than 50 years after Congress made it illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of sex, it is shameful that hard working American women are paid so much less than their male counterparts for the same work.

-Today, women make up nearly half the workforce, but their paychecks still lag far behind men's. Today the typical American woman who works full time, year round is paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to her male counterpart.

-The wage gap occurs at all education levels, after work experience is taken into account, and it gets worse as women's careers progress.

-Women are paid less than men in nearly every occupation. One study examining wage gaps within occupations found that out of 265 major occupations, men's median salary exceeded women's in all but a few lower paid service sector jobs.

-The six jobs with the largest gender gap in pay and at least 10,000 men and 10,000 women were in the Wall Street-heavy financial sector: insurance agents, managers, clerks, securities sales agents, personal advisers, and other specialists.

-Advanced-degree professions proved no better predictors of equality. Female doctors made 63 cents for every $1 earned by male physicians and surgeons. Female chief executives earned 74 cents for every $1 made by male counterparts.
Women only constitute 3.7 percent of Fortune 500 chief executives and 18.3 percent of corporate-board directors.

-The wage gap impacts women as soon as they enter the labor force, expands over time, and leaves older women with a gap in retirement income.

-The wage gap is smaller for younger women than older women, but it begins right when women enter the labor force. The typical 15-24 year old woman working full time, year round, earns 92.2 percent of what her male counterpart is paid.
Among older women, the gap is even larger. The typical 45-64 year old woman working full time, year round is paid just 72.8 percent of what her male counterpart is paid. For women still working at age 65 and older the figure is 72.1 percent.

-A typical woman who worked full time, year round would lose$443,360 over the course of a 40-year working life due to the wage gap. This woman would have to work almost twelve years longer to make up this gap. A typical woman working full time, year round who starts, but who does not finish high school would lose $372,400 over a 40-year period, an enormous amount of money for women who are typically paid $21,113 a year. This woman would have to work over seventeen years longer to make up this gap.

-As a result of lower lifetime earnings and different work patterns, the average Social Security benefit for women 65 and older was about $12,700 per year, compared to $16,700 for men of the same age in 2011.

-In 2010, women 50 and older received only 56 cents for every dollar received by men in income from pensions and annuities. One study found that the typical woman worker near retirement with a defined contribution plan or individual retirement account had accumulated $34,000 in savings, while her male counterpart held $70,00--more than twice as much. Reasons for the Wage GapREASONS FOR THE WAGE GAP

-Several important factors contribute to the wage gap. Among them are discrimination, racial disparities, occupational segregation, which involve structural factors which operate to concentrate women in low-wage jobs and limit their access to higher paying jobs in nontraditional occupations. Also playing a part is the devaluation of women's work and women's greater responsibility for care giving.

-A study by labor economists Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn found that even controlling for the combined effects of occupation, industry, work experience, union status, race and educational attainment, 41% of the wage gap remains unexplained. This indicates that discrimination plays a sizable role in the gender wage gap.

-Some of this discrimination seems to be directed against mothers. A study by sociologists Shelley Correll, Stephan Benard, and Ian Paik found that, when comparing equally qualified women job candidates, women who were mothers were recommended for significantly lower starting salaries, perceived as less competent, and less likely to be recommended for hire than non-mothers.

-The effects for fathers in the study were the opposite: fathers were actually recommended for significantly higher pay and were perceived as more committed to their jobs than non-fathers.

-But it is not only mothers who are discriminated against in the workplace. Study after study shows that when companies are reviewing resumes, they are more likely to hire men, and more likely to offer those men a higher salary. These studies are done by submitting identical resumes, but changing the name of the applicant. This means that even with the exact same resume and qualifications, Roberta is offered a lower salary than Robert. Joanna is offered a lower salary than Joe. Women are offered a lower salary than men just because they are women.The Wage Gap is Even Greater for Women of Color.

Women of color experience a far greater wage gap than their white, non-Hispanic counterparts.

The typical African-American woman who works full time, year round makes only 64 cents, and the typical Hispanic woman who works full time, year round only 55 cents, for every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts. For the typical white, non-Hispanic woman, this figure is 77 cents.

The wage gap for African-American and Hispanic women working full time, year round persists when the effect of race is examined alone. The typical African-American woman working full-time year round is paid roughly 80 cents for every dollar paid to her white, non-Hispanic female counterpart. The gap is larger for the typical Hispanic woman working full time, year round, who is paid just 70 cents for every dollar paid to her white, non-Hispanic female counterpart.

The wage gap for African-American and Hispanic women working full time, year round also persists when the effect of sex is considered alone. The typical African-American woman working full-time year round is paid roughly 85 cents for every dollar paid to her African-American male counterpart. The typical Hispanic woman working full time, year round is paid 91 cents for every dollar paid to her Hispanic male counterpart.

In my home state of Texas, the statistics are even worse for women of color. African American women in Texas make 59.6 cents compared to white non-Hispanic men, and Hispanic women make 45.2 cents for every dollar earned by a white, non-Hispanic man. Occupational Segregation Leads to Unequal Pay Persistent Occupational Segregation

Almost two-thirds of workers earning the lowest wages--those who make the federal minimum wage or less--are women. The federal minimum wage is just $7.25 per hour. The federal minimum cash wage for tipped employees is $2.13 per hour, less than one-third of the current federal minimum wage and unchanged in more than 20 years. Women make up almost two-thirds (65 percent) of workers in tipped occupations.

Even in occupations that pay slightly above the federal minimum wage, women predominate. Women are the majority of workers in each of the ten largest occupations that typically pay less than $10.10 per hour, and two-thirds or more of the workers in seven of these occupations.

Studies have shown that occupational segregation leads to lower wages for women. In fact, wages in occupations that are made up predominantly of women--``pink collar'' occupations such as child care workers, family caregivers or servers pay low wages--precisely because women are the majority of workers in the occupation. One study that used the share of women in an occupation to predict wages in that job a decade later found that ``women's occupations''--those that were two-thirds or more female--had wages that were 6 percent to 10 percent lower a decade later than ``mixed occupations.'' Unequal Pay Hurts Families and Children

Whenever a woman receives unequal pay for equal work, their families suffer.

Lower earnings have a serious impact on the economic security of the over 7.5 million families headed by working single mothers.

Working single mothers with children struggle to make ends meet. In 2011, over a quarter, almost 2.2 million, of all such families were poor. Almost an additional 2.5 million working single mother families were on the edge of poverty, falling between 100 and 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, meaning that 62% of working single mother families subsisted under 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. In 2011, the Federal Poverty Level for a single mother with two children was just $18,123.

Most two-parent families depend on women's wages, and so also suffer when women receive unfair pay.

Nearly 1.6 million married couples with children relied exclusively on women's earnings at some point in 2011, representing 6.6 percent of all married couples with children.

In 2011, more than 13.9 million married couples with children relied on both parents' earnings, representing 58.7 percent of all married couples with children.

Fair pay impacts married women with no children who are more likely to be solely supporting their family than married women with children.

Nearly 4.1 million married couples with no children relied exclusively on women's earnings at some point in 2011, representing 11.5 percent of all married couples with no children.

In 2011, almost 13.9 million married couples with no children relied on both partners' earnings, representing 39.4 percent of all married couples with no children. Lilly Ledbetter's Story

While looking at these shocking statistics, I wanted to remind you all of the story of a woman who received unequal pay for equal work: Lilly Ledbetter. She has become a household name for her courage to fight for an equal paycheck. Thanks to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 women in Ms. Ledbetter's situation can now seek remedies in federal court more easily. These statistics show that women all around the country experience the kind of discrimination that Lilly Ledbetter faced.

Lilly Ledbetter was born in a house with no running water or electricity in the small town of Possum Trot, Alabama.

She worked hard, and became a supervisor at Goodyear Tire and Rubber's plant in Gadsden, Alabama, from 1979 until her retirement in 1998.

For most of those years, she worked as an area manager, a position largely occupied by men. Initially, Ledbetter's salary was in line with the salaries of men performing substantially similar work. Over time, however, her pay slipped in comparison to the pay of male area managers with equal or less seniority.

By the end of 1997, Ledbetter was the only woman working as an area manager and the pay discrepancy between Ledbetter and her 15 male counterparts was stark: Ledbetter was paid $3,727 per month; the lowest paid male area manager received $4,286 per month, the highest paid, $5,236.

In short, despite her outstanding performance, every month Lilly Ledbetter took home a smaller paycheck than men doing the same job. She may have never found out about this discrimination had a co-worker not slipped her an anonymous note telling her she was being paid hundreds of dollars less per month.

At first, the Supreme Court said that Lilly Ledbetter couldn't even sue her employer since the first time they began paying her unequally was 19 years ago, leaving Lilly Ledbetter with no remedy for the 19 years of unequal, discriminatory paychecks she received. Fortunately, Congress stepped up and passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which allows women to bring a lawsuit within a reasonable amount of time uncovering the discrimination.

Our goal here in Congress needs to be to eliminate unequal pay at its root. Every day, women like Lilly Ledbetter are less able to pay their bills, save for retirement, and enjoy the fruits of their labor because they are paid less than their male counterparts. Conclusion

We need to act to close this wage gap. More than 50 years after Congress made it illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of sex, it is shameful that hard working American women are paid 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man. 77 cents for working the same job, the same number of hours.

Equal Pay Day reminds us how much further we need to go to achieve equality in the workplace. We need to come together to work to put an end to unequal pay for equal work.


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