Rep. Bolden Marks Equal Pay Day

By Rep. Stephanie T. Bolden

Today we mark Equal Pay Day in the General Assembly. Equal Pay Day marks the extra time the average American women would need to work to earn as much as her average male counterpart did in the previous years.

Since 2009 when Present Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Act, which restores protection against discrimination, the wage gap for women still remains an issue. Women earn 77 cents for every dollar in wages paid to men. But that disparity is greater for women of color: African-American women are paid 64 cents for every dollar, while Hispanic and Latina women are paid 54 cents for every dollar men earn in the same job. Research indicates by the age of 65, the average woman will have lost $431,000 in wages as a result of the earnings gap.

I have experienced this pay inequity personally. With the same credentials, major, degrees and more experience, I applied for and was hired for a position, but I was not hired at the same salary as my male counterpart. Later, in Washington, D.C., having just graduated from college with a degree, I was paid less for the same position than my counterpart with no degree.

Today, President Obama announced a pair of moves that will strengthen enforcement of equal pay laws for women. First, he announced an executive order banning federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their compensation. Second the president will sign a presidential memorandum ordering new regulations requiring federal contractors to submit data to the Department of Labor on how they compensate their employees, including by sex and race.

As legislators and supporters wear red today, let it be known the time has come for wages paid to women in Delaware and the United States to catch up to wages paid to men. It is time to move women wages from the red to the black in this society.