President Obama declared Tuesday to be National Equal Pay Day, even as his White House has maintained a history of paying female staffers less than men.
National Equal Pay Day is a symbolic marker of how far into the year activists say a woman, on average, would need to work in order to earn as much a man did the year before.
“On average, full-time working women earn 78 cents for every dollar earned by men, and women of color face an even greater disparity,” Obama said in his presidential proclamation. “This wage gap puts women at a career-long disadvantage, and it harms families, communities, and our entire economy.”
Obama made the proclamation even as news outlets have pressed the White House on its own double-digit pay disparities between men and women.
A Washington Post analysis of White House salary data in July revealed that the Obama administration had not narrowed the 13 percent pay gap between male and female staffers that existed during Obama’s first year in office.
In 2009, women at the White House made on average $72,700, while male staffers made $82,000. By 2014, women staffers made $78,400 compared to the average male salaries of $88,600, according to the Post.
Nevertheless Monday, as in years prior, Obama declared Tuesday to be National Equal Pay Day.
“NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 14, 2015, as National Equal Pay Day,” Obama proclaimed Monday. “I call upon all Americans to recognize the full value of women’s skills and their significant contributions to the labor force, acknowledge the injustice of wage inequality, and join efforts to achieve equal pay.”
When pressed on the average pay disparity between men and women at the White House, press secretary Josh Earnest admitted imperfections at the White House, but argued that it is better than the national average and that women get equal pay for equal work.
“The White House is doing appreciably better than the country is more broadly, but we still have more work to do at the White House,” Earnest said in July.
And while left-leaning groups and feminists across the country are marking Equal Pay Day Tuesday, more center-right groups argue the statistic is flawed.
“The statistical difference between women and men’s average earnings isn’t driven by widespread sexism, but largely from different choices men and women make throughout our lives. The Administration and its allies know the wage gap statistic is grossly misleading; in fact, last year the White House conceded the figure is flawed, yet continues to regurgitate it again this year,” Sabrina Schaeffer, Independent Women’s Forum executive director, said Tuesday.