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New bill aims to close gender pay gap

Gillibrand

Gillibrand Photo Credit: Getty

Men still make more money than women for equal work, a gap so stubborn that a bill to eradicate it was introduced yesterday in Congress.

The Paycheck Fairness Act aims to strengthen federal pay equity laws to close the gender pay gap. U.S. women make just under 80 percent of what their male counterparts take in.

"It is alarming that in the 21st century, millions of women who make up half the workforce are earning 78 cents for every dollar earned by men," said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who introduced the bill.

Added Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada), a bill co-sponsor: “Every week the average American woman must work seven days to take home the same paycheck it takes a man only five days to earn. Sadly, this benchmark represents progress."

The gap appears to be smaller in New York City. According to unpublished statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average weekly salary for full-time men in the city was $788, while women made $725, or about 92 percent of what men made.

Martin Kohli, regional economist of the bureau, said part of the reason for the slow change is that many industries are still overwhelmingly male-dominated, so change comes more slowly.

The bill coincided with Equal Pay Day, which denotes the point in the year when women catch up to what men made the previous year.

Progress toward equality continues at a "glacial pace," said Sonia Ossorio, executive director of the city's chapter of the National Organization for Women.

"This act is essential to leveling the playing field," she said. "Systematic discrimination still exists, and women need to fight back and ask for what they're worth."

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