Monday marked the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act, but studies show women still earn less than men. Women made just 77 cents for every dollar a man made in 2011.
“It prevents women from being full participants in society because we are not paid as much we don’t have as many choices,” says American Association of University Women senior researcher Christianne Corbett.
In March the AAUW studied workers one year out of college and found women made 82 percent of what their male peers made.
That’s concerning for women like Kate Drummond, who’s finishing her business degree.
“It’s officially unfair but I think there is a more complicated and nuanced issue behind it,” Drummond says.
President Obama celebrated the anniversary of the landmark act by demanding better.
“This is the 21st century, it’s time to close that gap,” he said.
He recognized equal pay is especially important now as women are the primary source of income in nearly 40 percent of American families. The president is now pushing congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, blocked by house Republicans earlier this year.
The act would make workplace salaries more transparent and force employers to prove pay discrepancies are unrelated to gender.
“One thing we know is when there is more transparency about what people make the gap goes down,” Corbett points out.
She calls the act a necessary step in the ongoing fight for fairness.