How Portland can reduce the wage gap between women and men

By Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman.

Today is Equal Pay Day. That's the day each year when American women finally earn what their male counterparts earned during the prior year. This year, it took women a shocking three months and eight days to catch up. That's because women across our country earn, on average, 77 cents for every dollar earned by men for equivalent work. This gap is wider for women of color: African-American women are paid 64 cents and Latinas 55 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.

There are many reasons why pay gaps exist -- and persist. One piece of the gap can be explained by how we undervalue work that is traditionally done by women -- even when it is comparable to higher paying work done by men. Another piece is due to the wage and promotion penalties women face after time away from the workforce due to family caregiving responsibilities (work that is still more often done by women). And some of the gap is due to persistent gender discrimination in hiring, pay and promotion -- despite laws that discourage the practice.

Reducing pay gaps and improving the economic security of women will require broader change than what's been tried in the past. I believe it is my job -- and the job of elected leaders at every level of government -- to commit to reducing it in the ways we can. It is with that in mind that I wish to highlight a few steps that I believe are critical to improving economic conditions for Portland women and their families in the near future:

Throughout my life in public office I have committed to creating better services for women and children. By focusing on these and other concrete steps to improve economic conditions for women, we will strengthen our entire city and help to finally reduce persistent pay and opportunity gaps.

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