President Barack Obama famously began his presidency by signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law. Now, on the seventh anniversary of doing so, it seems Obama is coming full circle and attempting to close this gap once and for all.
"We knew that our work wasn't done, that we had a lot more to do to close the pay gap between men and women and ensure that no woman would ever face the kind of discrimination that Lilly faced on the job," Obama said at a White House event on Friday.
The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission and the Department of Labor will publish a proposal Friday that would require any business of 100 or more employees to collect and submit data about their workers to the federal government, Time reported Friday. This information will be analyzed by race, gender and ethnicity and evaluated for evidence of discriminatory practices, according to the report.
While this proposal could potentially benefit any marginalized worker, it will hopefully particularly contribute to closing the gender wage gap. "This is an issue that's personal for President Obama who has said over and over again that there's no reason why his daughters should be paid less than anyone's sons for doing the same job," White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said Thursday on a press call about the proposal, Time reported.
"All of us have to make sure that all of our young girls know we're invested in their success," the president said.
Yet it's still statistically likely that Sasha and Malia Obama will be paid less than their male counterparts. In 2014, full-time female workers in the United States made 79 cents for every $1 their male counterparts made — and women of color and mothers made even less, according to the American Association of University Women. This wage gap translates to about $10,876 less per year in average earnings for all women across the country, according to the National Women's Law Center, and should it continue at this pace, won't close until 2058, according to a 2015 study by the Institute for Women's Policy Research, the Daily Beast reported.
The Obama administration's new proposal is hardly the first attempt to counter this unacceptable reality. Legislators have notably combatted this issue on the state level: In October, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a Fair Pay Act that went into effect this month, following similar legislation signed into law in Vermont and New Mexico in 2013, according to ThinkProgress.
As Obama has said himself multiple times, women deserve equal pay for equal work as well as legislation that ensures this right. This proposal, therefore, seems like a promising sign that Obama is doing all he can to keep his word.