By now, you've probably heard the figures, or some variant on them. Many people, including President Obama himself, have stated that women earn just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns in America, on the basis of a Bureau of Labor Statistics report that found women's median annual income for full-time work to be just 77 percent of what men haul in. So it comes as little surprise that, while speaking on Tuesday before an assemblage of female tech executives in Santa Clara, Hillary Clinton talked about the wage gap.
Speaking before the crowd of highly accomplished women in science and tech, as detailed by the Huffington Post, she laid out her vision, complete with a shout-out for Academy Award winner Patricia Arquette.
You bump your heads on the glass ceilings that persist in the tech industry today. ... Up and down the ladder many women are paid less for the same work, which is why we all cheered at Patricia Arquette's speech at the Oscars — because she's right, it's time to have wage equality once and for all.
The "77 cents to a man's dollar" figure has been disputed by conservatives and liberals alike, who note that it doesn't account for differing levels of education and experience. Subsequent studies trying to control for these variables still found a wage gap, however, albeit it a narrower one.
Said Arquette at the Oscars:
To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.
More bad news about the wage gap: Even the 77 cent statistic isn't stable across different racial backgrounds. The aforementioned BLS report tells the tale — while women overall bring in 77 cents on the dollar (excepting whatever controls you want to add), black women bring in just 64 cents. It's even worse for Latina women — their annual median income for full-time work is just 55 cents on the dollar.
The wage gap could become an embarrassing point of emphasis for Hillary herself — she's recently come under fire from the conservative Washington Free Beacon (hey, don't shoot the messenger), alleging that her female staffers in the Senate earned only 72 cents on a man's dollar, using the same calculus.
This isn't to say that Hillary doesn't have an important voice in this, or that she doesn't want to make this change real. But it's a worthwhile reminder of just how much work — deliberate, calculated, and structured systems — has to happen to overcome such long-running, entrenched forms of inequality.
Whether or not it's accurate to state the wage gap at 23 cents between men and women, further analysis has laid bare that a wage gap really, truly does exist, and it adds up to millions of lost dollars for American women each year. Simply put, the only acceptable pay gap is no pay gap, so don't expect women to back down about this. And frankly, there's no expected presidential candidate poised to do more good on this issue than Hillary.
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