Photo credit to blogs.reuters.com
By Ellen Hansen
The president responds to debated trends of discrimination.
The idea of the gender pay gap is something that has come to instill both anger and annoyance in the minds of millions. These feelings do not always stem from the same place, either. For many, this outrage can be found in the belief that women are not being paid the dues they should be. For many others, it can be found in the belief that this pay gap is minute. It is a difficult thing to debate because, quite frankly, the statistics behind the issue are often used to adequately defend both positions.
On Tuesday, April 8th, President Obama- of the firm belief that this gap is, in fact, significant- signed off on two directives aimed at decreasing discrimination demonstrated through pay. The first is an executive order that prohibits federal workers from punishing employees who wish to discuss their salary. In addition to this, he asked the Labor Department to put into place new rules demanding federal contractors to provide data regarding the pay of employees that is broken up by race and gender. This holds the potential to prevent pay discrimination not only towards women, but towards those of minority groups as well.
The president, commenting that "Pay secrecy fosters discrimination," continued on to approve a legislation entitled the "Paycheck Fairness Act" that would, much like the previously-described directive, make it impossible for companies to punish employees who wish to discuss their salary. Just the same, it would allow for compensation to be achieved through a lawsuit for individuals who are victims of this discrimination. This particular motion, however, was blocked soon after by republican members of the senate. This move was no real surprise to anyone, as legislation similar to this was denied by the GOP in 2012 and 2010 as well.
The issue of the gender pay gap remains a controversial one that is expected to be an integral part of the democratic platform in the next election. This is certainly a subject that warrants even more discussion as well as an unbiased look at the facts, something which is, unfortunately, difficult to come by at the moment. Still, it is the trend of this world to progress toward social justice. The society we've built has been far from perfect, but it continues to improve. It is in our best interest to find comfort in the hope that, some time down the line, issues of gender inequality- things that are harmful toward men, women, and everyone in between- will exist only as frowned-upon remnants of the past.