At the time of the Equal Pay Act’s passage in 1963, women working full time, year-round were paid merely 59 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. Enforcement of the Equal Pay Act and related civil rights laws has helped to narrow the wage gap, but significant disparities remain and must be addressed.
Women have struggled to regain jobs in the recovery and continue to face high levels of long-term unemployment, even as their families rely on them more heavily for financial support. Wages overall are stagnating and the wage gap has barely budged over the last ten years. The gap particularly harms women in these economically difficult times, when women and families are especially financially vulnerable. Although Congress has taken initial steps to improve the laws that govern pay discrimination by passing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, there is more that must be done to realize the decades-old promise of fair pay for equal work.