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US-POLITICS-OBAMA-FAIR PAY

On Friday, President Barack Obama reaffirmed his commitment to closing the gender pay gap. In a brief released by the White House, the President unveiled a new set of rules that would require companies with over 100 employees to provide data to the federal government that breaks down pay based on gender, race, and ethnicity.

According to the brief, the goal of the initiative is to help companies better track their pay bias and to provide the federal government with hard data so they can better act against it. We often hear the statistic that women make 79 cents to the man’s dollar — something the White House quoted in its brief, and the President quoted in his subsequent speech — but in reality, that statistic refers to the amount of money white women make in comparison with their white male counterparts. For women of color and women with disabilities, this gap is even wider — and these new rules would help provide additional insight into just how wide it is.

“This won’t solve every problem,” President Obama said. “We’ve still got to get more women and girls into high-paying fields like science and technology, engineering and math. We still have to make sure that women aren’t penalized or held back in the workplace simply for starting a family.”

While the new measure won’t fix everything overnight, it does prove the President’s dedication to putting a serious dent in the wage gap. In fact, the decision to buckle down on pay inequality aligns with the 7th anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which was the first major piece of legislation the President signed into law. The act extended the time period for bringing pay discrimination claims to court — and Ledbetter herself was the one to introduce the President at his speech today.