Fifty years ago today, President John F. Kennedy signed into law the Equal Pay Act of 1963. The law states no employer shall discriminate “between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions.”
When JFK signed the Equal Pay Act, women, on average, were earning 59 cents for every dollar men earned. Today, though, women still are making just 77 cents for every dollar earned by men for equal work. This disparity has led Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., to co-sponsor an update to the law, called the Paycheck Fairness Act, along with a number of other female senators.
“We believe this is an economic issue. It’s not only about women but the middle class, and if you’re not paying a woman dollar for dollar for the exact same work you’re not really tapping the full potential of the economy,” said Gillibrand on “CBS This Morning.” “And why wouldn’t you tap the full potential of 52 percent of the resources of the women of this country? “If you paid women for dollar for dollar, you could raise the GDP by up to 9 percent.”
On June 5, the Senate failed to secure the 60 votes needed to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. Gillibrand believes that this setback was a result of politics.