Women workers in the United States earn 79 cents for every dollar men do. And President Barack Obama doesn't want you to forget it.
Speaking Friday at a White House event celebrating the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Obama proposed collecting pay data from companies with 100 or more people — and breaking down the numbers by gender, race and ethnicity. About 63 million workers would be covered, according to a news release accompanying his announcement, which aims to "focus public enforcement of our equal pay laws and provide better insight into discriminatory pay practices across industries and occupations."
According to the White House, median wages for a full-time working woman total $39,600. The same for a man add up to $50,400.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 29, 2016
"The notion that somehow we would be keeping my daughters ... or any of your daughters, out of opportunity, not allowing them to thrive in every field, not letting them fully participate in every human endeavor — that's counterproductive," Obama added. "That's not how we're going to build a great future for our country."
Friday was the seventh anniversary of the Ledbetter Act, the first bill that Obama signed into law as president. The law made it easier for employees to file discrimination suits against their bosses. It was inspired by Ledbetter, who sued after discovering she was making thousands of dollars less than her male counterparts at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. and was ultimately shot down by the Supreme Court.
Ledbetter introduced Obama on Friday, calling him an ally for women's rights. Details of his proposal came in the release: It will expand to cover more than just government contractors, though it won't make businesses disclose specific salaries of each employee. The first deadline to submit the data would be Sept. 30, 2017, after Obama leaves office.
"Women are not getting the fair shot we believe every single American deserves," Obama said Friday. "What kind of example does paying women less set for our sons and daughters?"
Obama said he wanted Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, an update to the Equal Pay Act of 1963 that would toughen penalties for employers found to be discriminating and prohibit retaliation against whistle-blowers, among other moves, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Senate Republicans have blocked it at least four times since 2011, the Huffington Post reported.
But Obama remained stubborn Friday, saying he knew achieving social change was a gradual process. "There are times where you just have to chip away and chip away and suddenly there may be some breakthroughs, but it's reliant on all of us to keep pushing that boulder up the hill," he added.
The White House also plans to host a summit called "The United State of Women" in May. Equal Pay Day was scheduled for April.