A new watchdog report is shining a light on the ongoing gender pay gap in the U.S. workforce and shows the disparities are even greater the higher women climb in their careers.
The report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) said as of 2021, “women working full time earned an estimated 76 cents for every dollar that men earned, on average, across all industries combined.”
Women in management positions, meanwhile, earned an estimated 71 cents for every dollar, according to the report.
The disparities are even greater for women of color.
“The pay gap starts from somebody’s very first job and it only grows as they progress in their career,” said Noreen Farrell, Executive Director of Equal Rights Advocates. “Women face a motherhood penalty. They may lack paid leave, which depresses their overall wages and maybe pushes them out of the workforce for a while.”
The advocacy group was part of a team that met with Biden administration officials at the White House this week to discuss efforts to close the gender pay gap.
Farrell said a key tool to help combat the problem is pay transparency.
“I’ve never met an employer that thinks that they’re paying unequally until they actually set up their scales and publish them and track data about pay disparities,” said Farrell.
At least eight states now require employers to post salary ranges for job openings and around a dozen others are considering similar requirements.
“It lets any candidate be able to understand what are the factors that put you on the low end and the high end of the range,” said Farrell.
At the federal level, action has been stalled.
Congress failed to pass the Democrat-baked Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have strengthened the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
Co-sponsors of the measure said it would have eliminated loopholes in the Equal Pay Act meant to stop pay discrimination.
“When we talk about the wage gap, we are ultimately talking about huge, life-changing amounts of pay that women are being cheated out of,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) earlier this month. “Women are paying the price of inaction, and we have to put a stop to sexist pay practices—for good.”
Republican opponents argued the bill didn’t offer any new protections and would have imposed legal burdens on small businesses.
“We all agree on the fundamental principle of this bill: Women should not be paid less than men for the same work,” said Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) about the measure in April 2021. “The question before us today is whether the Democrats’ Paycheck Fairness Act provides any additional protections to women in the workplace. The answer is a resounding no.”
Equal pay supporters, meanwhile, are calling for federal action to help close the gap.
“Our rights shouldn’t depend on our zip code,” said Farrell. “Talk about your pay. Ask questions. Advocate for yourself.”
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