Ten years after the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act became law in 2009, the pay gap between men and women has narrowed very slightly. Today, the average female worker earns about 80 cents for every dollar that a man earns, an increase of a few pennies over the decade.
Writing in the Jan. 29 issue of The Conversation, UB School of Law Venable Professor of Law Michele Gilman explores the reasons for this persistent inequity and discusses ways to close the gap. Prof. Gilman is director of the Saul Ewing Civil Advocacy Clinic and co-director of the Center on Applied Feminism. Read the entire article here.
Progress that women have made in attaining pay parity have more to do with “women’s increased educational attainment and entry into the workforce” than to anti-discrimination laws, she says. In hearing complaints of pay discrimination based on gender, she adds, “courts have permitted a limitless array of employer excuses for paying women less that are themselves rooted in gender bias,” including lower prior salary history.
“Steps that would help include prohibiting employers from using salary history in setting wages, banning employer retaliation against employees who share wage information, providing greater transparency in pay, and revising Title VII and the Equal Pay Act to better address workplace realities,” Prof. Gilman says.
Eliminating the gender pay gap would have many benefits, she argues. “Doing so would add about $513 billion to the economy because of the extra income generated, reduce poverty and do a lot to support American families since mothers are the sole or primary breadwinners in about half of them.”