Equal Pay for Equal Work? Sounds Just Fine

President Obama gave the annual State of the Union address on Jan. 24, 2012. According to Nielsen ratings, 37,752,613 people watch this presidential speech that is mandated by the Constitution. The media measurement system revealed that the amount of viewers was down by 12 percent compared to last year.

However, Forbes reported on Jan. 25 that Twitter’s site crashed due to the volume of tweets that came in as President Obama delivered his speech. The business site went on to explain that there were “766,681 SOTU-related tweets posted between 9:05 and 10:40 pm…(14,131 TPM, or Tweets Per Minute).”

In his speech, Obama covered many topics, ranging from the importance of growing American-based businesses, clean energy, immigration, and education. Yet, one of the biggest moments of the night (despite the “spilled milk” joke made by the president), was his comment on women receiving equal salaries as men as compensation for equal work. On the president’s Twitter account, his 2012 campaign staff tweeted on Jan. 26, “Top #SOTU moment no. 1, as decided by Twitter: Equal pay for equal work. http://OFA.BO/mhH46q

The following day, the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, also tweeted: “Proud that the Fair Pay Act was the first bill Barack signed as president. -mo.”

The White House transcripts gave a detailed review of President Obama’s speech: “You see, an economy built to last is one where we encourage the talent and ingenuity of every person in this country,” he said. “That means women should earn equal pay for equal work. It means we should support everyone who’s willing to work.” Many members of Congress gave the president a standing ovation for saying this.

In these current times, women are still fighting for economic equality. The female gender has surpassed many hurdles, starting with the ability to vote and hold office (Shirley Chisholm being a prime example as the first African-American woman to hold political office in Congress), obtaining and maintaining high-paying jobs, and receiving higher education.

Still, many American women receive almost 82 cents on the dollar as compared to a man on pay-day. A news release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics states, “Women who usually worked full-time had median weekly earnings of $688, or 81.6 percent of the $843 median for men.” The economic salary gap has come a long way, but 20 percent still makes a huge difference. Breaking down the payment of women by terms of ethnicity, the news release continues, “White women earned 81.4 percent as much as their male counterparts, compared with black (91.1 percent), Asian (80.3 percent), and Hispanic women (90.4 percent).”

A shifting in understanding and in ultimately accepting the need of economic equality for women has been made clear, especially by the most notable member of our government, the President of the United States. According to a White House transcript, which was provided by Hinterland Gazette, in a Chicago fundraiser which took place shortly before the State of the Union address, President Obama said to the audience: “The first bill I signed–a bill that said that we’re going to have equal pay for equal work because I want my daughters treated the same way as my sons.”

There is still some way to go, but the road to a destination is never complete until the destination is reached. Women will continue to make bigger and better strides until the fair check is paid. Some day, one day, that awaited check will come.

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