Women in the U.S. currently make about 79 cents to a man's dollar, which means that even in 2016, women are still treated as economically inferior to men in the workplace. Although there is a gender wage gap in every state, some states are worse than others, like Louisiana, where women earn just 65 percent of men's earnings. The worst part? It could take as long as 118 years for the wage gap to close between men and women. Our next president could make significant strides in closing the wage gap sooner, but not all of the remaining candidates have spoken about how they would address this issue. Here's exactly what the presidential candidates think about equal pay.
Since 1995, Clinton has been an outspoken advocate for gender equality, especially when it comes to economics. While in Beijing giving a speech for the UN Conference On Women, Clinton fiercely declared that if there were one salient message, "It is that human rights are women's rights...And women's rights are human rights."
Clinton sponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act during her time as senator. The Paycheck Fairness Act would strengthen the Equal Pay Act by holding employers responsible for proving that pay differences between men and women are based on a qualification that's a business necessity and not gender. The Act would also ban companies from retaliating against employees who raise concerns about gender-based wage discrimination in the workplace.
Similarly, Clinton co-sponsored the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which restored protection to women against pay discrimination in the workplace. Ledbetter endorsed Clinton this election season, throwing her support behind Clinton for her commitment to closing the wage gap.
Sanders has supported the Paycheck Fairness Act as a way to help close the wage gap. "There is no rational economic reason why women should be earning 78 cents on the dollar compared to men; that has got to change," Sanders said during a rally in Greenville, South Carolina, on Aug. 21. The wage gap is even worse for women of color; compared to men, African-American women make 64 cents, Hispanic women make 54 cents, and Native American women make 65 cents. Sanders has acknowledged this in his campaign as a way to show just how important it is for all women that the wage gap closes.
After Republicans tried to block the Paycheck Fairness Act in September 2014, Sanders released a statement that criticized them for trying to deny women economic equality. "If the U.S. Senate had 80 women rather than 80 men as it does now, this bill would pass immediately," Sanders said in his statement.
In the past, Cruz has voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act three times. (He also abstained from voting on it in 2014.) Although Cruz has recognized that women face difficult circumstances in the workplace, he has claimed that equal pay "has been the law for decades." Furthermore, when Democrats made a push to achieve equal pay between men and women in April 2014, Cruz said it was simply a strategy to gain "political show votes."
In August, Trump advocated for equal pay, saying, "Women should have absolute access to capital. If they do the same job, they should get the same pay." However, Trump has said that women will achieve equal pay when they do "as good a job" as men in the workplace. In other words, Trump attributes the wage gap to women's lack of professional skills and argued that the solution is simply for women to be better at their jobs.
Kasich has made clear that he thinks the wage gap can be explained by experience. He argued that taking paid maternity leave ultimately results in a pay differential between men and women because women aren't improving their professional skills at home. "When women take maternity leave or time to be with the children, then what happens is they fall behind on the experience level, which means that the pay becomes a differential," Kasich said at campaign stop in Exeter, New Hampshire, on Jan. 8.
Kasich has maintained his argument that the gender wage gap is based on a lack of skills and experience, and he once asked if those getting paid less (women) "have the skills to be able to compete." A newspaper investigation also found that women who work in Kasich's office in Ohio earn nearly $10 less per hour than their male coworkers.
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