Special day marks salary gap between men, women
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
"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
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
'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
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
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.