Tell the President to Act on Equal Pay

UPDATE: Thanks to months of persistent advocacy from AAUW members and supporters, President Obama intends to sign the anti-retaliation executive order on Tuesday, April 8. Read AAUW's statement, and learn more about this exciting announcement.

In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama pledged to sign an executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contractors. But working women and their families need more. In addition to raising the minimum pay rate for federal contractors, President Obama should take steps to make their pay more equal, too.

Women working full-time, year round, are still paid 77 cents on average for every dollar paid to men. Even after controlling for factors known to affect earnings, such as occupation, college major, and hours worked, a 7 percent pay gap persists between male and female college graduates just one year after graduation.

Even worse than the wage gap existing is the reality that few women actually know if they are being paid unfairly, and some don't feel safe asking those questions at work for fear of retaliation from their bosses. They could even be fired!

If we are to help women ensure they are being paid fairly, we have to change this – starting with the companies that do business with the federal government. Urge the president to tell federal contractors: If you're going to do business with the government, you can't fire or otherwise retaliate against employees who ask about wage practices or share their personal salary information!

An executive order banning retaliation from President Obama could change the policies of the thousands of businesses that work with our government. We can't wait for Congress to fix this problem. The president can and should act now.

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