President Obama pushes for equal pay for women
Obama speaks during his visit to Valencia College in Orlando on Thursday, March 20, 2014. Obama is visiting the school to highlight women's economic issues. (AP Images)
March 20th, 2014
05:25 PM ET
4 years ago

President Obama pushes for equal pay for women

Orlando, Florida (CNN) - President Barack Obama's latest push in his much touted "Year of Action" is to help women get on an equal playing field with men.

Obama, speaking Thursday to a group of students and staff at Valencia College in Orlando, Florida, discussed his plan to give women more access to higher education and skills for the workforce.

"When women make less than men, that hurts their families, including their partners, their husbands, their kids. They have got less to get by on. It hurts businesses, because now their customers have less to spend," the President said. "When any of our citizens cannot fulfill their potential for any reason - that does not have to do with their talent or character or work ethic - that is holding us back."

Obama urged Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act but noted that less than 20 percent of congressional seats are held by women.

"Right now the majority of the senators support that bill, but so far Republicans have blocked it. We have got to get them to change their minds and join us in this century," Obama said.

"Congress needs to act so that Americans join every other advanced nation on Earth by offering paid leave to those who work hard every day. It is time to do away with some of these workplace policies that belong in it Mad Men episode," he added.

Part of his overall economic message help the middle class, the President focused on ways to specifically help women and girls be able to afford getting a college education. His plan includes keeping interest rates low for student loans, increasing the maximum Pell grant to $5,730, and creating a new $2500 tax credit.

More women receive Pell grants or other federal scholarships than men and they also take out more federal loans than their male counterparts.

"We all have a stake in this. Women make up about half of our workforce. Over half of Valencia students - 56 percent - are women. In fact, for more than two decades, women have earned over half of the higher education degrees awarded in this country," he said. "That means soon, for the first time, America's highly educated workforce will be made up of more women than men. But, the thing is, our economy has not caught up to their reality yet."

Surrounded by a group of female students and staff members from Valencia College, the President highlighted the role of community colleges in women's higher education. Fifty-eight percent of community college students are women, with nearly a quarter of them having children.

Thursday's event was the first of five regional forums on women's issues that will culminate in the White House Summit on Working Families in June. Senior administration officials will host events in Denver, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, and New York City.

The President said he had a personal stake in seeing women get ahead because his household is made up of 80% women. He wants to make it easier for his daughters in the future.

"I want to make sure that my daughters are getting the same chances as men. I do not want them paid less for doing the same job as some guys doing. When they have children, I want to make sure they are not having to quit their jobs, or, you know, in some other fashion be hampered, because we don't have the kinds of policies in this country that support them," he said.

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (86 Responses)
  1. carlos

    He should be pushing for unequal pay, then the Repubs would be against it and we might get somewhere.

    March 20, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  2. Tony D

    Obama, speaking Thursday to a group of students and staff at Valencia College in Orlando, Florida, discussed his plan to give women more access to higher education and skills for the workforce.

    Problem is they won't have jobs because Obama is wrecking the economy with his far left whack job ideas. Over 5 years after the recession ended, still massive high unemployment. All of this will be wasted money with no jobs.

    March 20, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  3. Gurgyl

    Raise minimum wage to 12/ an hour. God bless!!!

    March 20, 2014 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  4. just asking

    and yet the women in his administration are making less than their male counterparts. as usual with this guy, a bunch of smoke and mirrors, lies and deceit. start by reducing the guys pay or increasing the woman's pay. walk the walk mr. campaigner-in-chief.

    March 20, 2014 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  5. bill

    EVERY single thing obama has done with business has costs us millions-the battery company had $400,000,000 of our dollars–sold to china for $25,000,000. The solar company is $166,000,000 in debt–and he knows what is best for business. wow-clinton was right "obama has never managed or owned a business in his entire life".

    March 20, 2014 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  6. Rick McDaniel

    Women are already getting equal pay for EQUAL WORK! Those who think they are NOT, are not doing EQUAL WORK!

    March 20, 2014 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  7. don in albuquerque

    Can't believe that since women were given the right to vote we are still fighting this issue. Ladies-–I'm sorry.

    March 20, 2014 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  8. Silence DoGood

    Let's compare:
    – Obama speaking out from the Bully Pulpit in support of women.
    – Radical Right attempting sharia law telling women what not to do, who not to marry

    March 20, 2014 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  9. abnguy

    Hopefully he will push harder on this than he and Kerry has pushed Putin.

    March 20, 2014 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  10. hgflyer

    Another prime example of our campaigner-in-chief on the road trying to get Americans to hate the other half of America. What a President we have!!

    As much as our current government is striving to have the demographics of our government employees mirror that of our citizenry, you cannot mandate that people elect a white/black/male/female/hispanic simply to make the numbers match up. People will vote for who they want...period.

    March 20, 2014 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  11. karl from az

    Good! Start at the White House!

    March 20, 2014 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  12. Daniel

    Did he mention that his staff and the WH staff pay women 77% of what they pay the male staffers?

    March 20, 2014 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  13. sandy

    O is clueless. He goes from one idea to another without a thoughtful plan. How pathetic he is of a POTUS.

    March 20, 2014 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  14. Patrick

    The pay gap myth is the myth that just won't die. There has never been one single study done ever – not one – that showed men and women earning significantly less for the same work. Those that show the 23% difference don't take any relevant factors – like choices – into account. Look up the CONSAD report which is the only study I know of that compares men and women doing the same work and the gap shrinks to 5%.

    If a man takes several years off from his career he faces exactly the same issues a woman does when she takes off.

    March 20, 2014 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  15. Maria Rivera-Carvalho

    How about reviving the ERA? It will be fun watching Repubs squirm trying to cover up their misogyny.

    March 20, 2014 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  16. Mimi

    Make it a law. Isn't that what he does? Like a one-man congress.

    March 20, 2014 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  17. YoonYoungJo

    This is truly amazing that this is even an issue. This should have been resolved decades ago. It still surprises some of the issues the world needs to work on. We all have mothers, daughters, wives, nieces and etc... Don't we respect them? Equal pay at the work place just seems common sense.

    March 20, 2014 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  18. Patrick

    "Obama, speaking Thursday to a group of students and staff at Valencia College in Orlando, Florida, discussed his plan to give women more access to higher education and skills for the workforce."

    Women already greatly outnumber men at every level of education in the US. How far does he want to take it?

    March 20, 2014 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  19. srcactus

    There he goes again. Picking winners and losers for political gain, ignoring fair and equal treatment for all.

    March 20, 2014 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  20. DC Johnny

    All this law will do is result in countless lawsuits against companies.

    Companies will have to settle for tens of thousands to avoid potentially devastating judge rulings for hundreds of thousands, and that will only encourage more and more women to "ambulance chase". I've seen it before with fake injuries, harassment, and many other frivolous examples of abuse of the law.

    But don't take my word for it. I'm only a small business owner who's been through this for decades. What do I know?

    March 20, 2014 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  21. DH

    Tony d your man bush pushed this country so far back it's taken more time to clean up his mess. If we wanted repub leadership we would have voted for it TWICE.

    March 20, 2014 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  22. Pitchforker

    Is the work really equal? Whenever my female peers can't figure something out they come to me.

    March 20, 2014 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  23. jaxx

    I haven't checked the statistics, but aren't there still more female students on college campuses than male students?

    March 20, 2014 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  24. Common sense

    Seems Hypocritical of Obama since women who work at the White House continue to make less money than their male counter-parts. Female White House staffers are paid less than 87 cents for every dollar paid to men who work at the White House.

    March 20, 2014 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  25. Bagocheese

    Could some democrat businessman pull this guy aside and clue him in that every decision he makes burdens our economy and inhibits our moribund growth. Jesus he is a slow learner.

    March 20, 2014 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
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