We Can't Wait Another 40 Years to Close the Wage Gap
When I graduated from college back in 1976, women made 60 cents for every dollar that men made. That meant my classmates and I had far less value than our male peers, in the most literal way. That meant the deck was stacked against us from the start. And that meant we were set up for a lifetime of less pay, and the likelihood that we would never catch up.
Fast forward to last May, when my daughter, Chiara, graduated from college. You would think — you would HOPE — that in the four decades between her graduation and mine, we would have closed the wage gap. Here’s the reality: From the very beginning of our careers, women and people of color have been paid less than our colleagues for the exact same work. And every time we get a new job, our salary is based on what we were making before. So not only do we start lower on the earnings ladder — we don’t rise as high with each rung we climb.
Today, women of all ethnicities make, on average, 80 cents for every dollar men make. White women earn 82 cents for every dollar white men make. Black men earn 73 cents for every dollar white men make. And women of color are paid the least by far. For example, Latinas make just 54 cents for every dollar men make. How can this be the case in 2016, in a country that claims to be a meritocracy?
The City of New York is answering these questions with bold, progressive policy because we need to make fundamental changes in the way people are hired in our City. The Commission on Gender Equity, which I lead as co-chair, is working to close disparities in pay in NYC and improve economic mobility. We are bringing the full force of City government to jump-start the effort. The Executive Order we announced last Fall will go a long way to ensure equal pay for equal work in our city, beginning with our hardworking public servants. We can’t wait another forty years to close the wage gap — and we won’t.