CNN logo
Message Boards 

CNN Networks 

Quick News 
Video Vault 
News Quiz 

Pathfinder/Warner Bros

Barnes and Noble

Main banner

Special day marks salary gap between men, women

Sanya Tyler
Sanya Tyler  

On average, women earn less

April 3, 1998
Web posted at: 12:19 p.m. EST (1719 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sanya Tyler, a women's basketball head coach for the last 18 years, has put in more hours and won more coaching awards than her male counterpart, but, until recently, she only earned one-fourth of his salary at Howard University.

"In order to survive in this business," she said, "you have to know exactly what you're entitled to."

Tyler's situation is not unique among working women in the United States, whose generally inferior compensation was recognized Friday with National Equal Pay Day, the day the typical woman's salary -- on average -- catches up to the amount the average man earned in 1997.

Working women, on average, make only 74 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts, although that's up from 59 cents in 1970, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The current salary disparity adds up to losses of more than $250,000 over a 30-year career.

The difference is even greater for minority women. Black women earn 65 cents, and Hispanic women 57 cents for every dollar earned by white men.

Clinton administration backs equal pay

President Clinton released a proclamation urging employers to "review their wage practices and to ensure that all their employees, including women, are paid equitably for their work."

Al Gore
Al Gore  

At a White House ceremony marking Equal Pay Day, Vice President Al Gore called the income gap unacceptable.

"We insist that women receive full and fair reward for their work and that the nature of that work reflect a full and fair recognition of women's accomplishments," Gore said. "For me, it's a simple matter of wanting my daughters to have the same opportunities in life that my son will have."

"It is not merely a matter of women with the same positions as men getting lower pay, it is also a matter of women with the same merit as men getting lower positions," he added. "Women in almost all types of jobs make less than men."

In the legal profession, men make $16,000 more than women every year. For dry cleaning operators, the annual difference is nearly $3,600. Even in occupations that employ mostly women, such as registered nurses, men make nearly $3,800 more, according to the National Committee on Pay Equity.

'Progress is slow'

"It has been 35 years since the passage of the Equal Pay Act. Progress is slow. The rate is less than half a penny a year in terms of closing the wage gap," said the committee's Susan Bianchi-Sand.

Gore urged passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would toughen the Equal Pay Act by allowing compensatory and punitive damages and easing the way for cases to proceed as class actions.

The bill's author, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Connecticut, stressed that pay inequality affects not only women but their families as well. Two out of five working women provide the sole economic support for their family.

'Paychecks and reality checks'

"This is fundamentally a day about paychecks and reality checks," Labor Secretary Alexis Herman told a crowd wearing AFL-CIO stickers that read, "Where's my 26 cents?"

Gore also announced Clinton's nomination of attorney Ida L. Castro as commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Castro is acting director of the Women's Bureau at the Labor Department and has been involved in employment and labor issues throughout her career. Her nomination will be sent to the Senate for confirmation.

Until legislation succeeds in equalizing salaries between men and women, some women continue to fight on their own. Tyler, for example, filed a discrimination lawsuit against Howard University and won.

She tells her players to be prepared for a tough fight when they graduate to the job market.

"If your male counterpart is making something, and you know you've earned it, you know you've worked towards it, you know you've done all the similar kinds of things to get it, then you're entitled to it," she said.

Correspondent Kyoko Altman contributed to this report.


Related sites:

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window

External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

Infoseek search  

Message Boards Sound off on our
message boards & chat

Back to the top

© 1998 Cable News Network, Inc.
A Time Warner Company
All Rights Reserved.

Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.