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
6 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. Tyler Durden

    Make it mandatory that oil field workers must be 50% women. Use that pen Mr. President! Midterms depend upon it!

    March 20, 2014 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  2. Josh

    Women are paid equally for equal work. Obama's own DOL confirmed that.

    March 20, 2014 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  3. greg

    Why does this President feel the need to create issues and divisiveness? I do not see where women get paid less for the same job? Seems to be a non issue he only announces to bring attention to make himself look good.

    Mr. President, you should pass a law to end slavery and allow women to vote as well. I mean C'mon, it is 2014. Raising the federal minimum wage 39% the day of the State of the Union...what a joke. Don't think I've ever received that kind of a pay raise without a promotion. This President has absolutely no sense of business economics. I don't care who wins in the next election. A head of cabbage would create less damage.

    March 20, 2014 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  4. Breaking Good

    Give em hell Mr Pres ...you got the fires going on all corners of the tri-fold's hat... Rome is ...SMOKING! I love you man!

    March 20, 2014 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  5. PharmGrl

    Pushing equal pay for women is not going to save democrats in mid terms. Nor will desperate War on Women rhetoric.
    The biggest increase in ObamaCare disapproval, now up to a whopping SIXTY per cent is|: WOMEN.
    Lie to a woman to sucker punch her in the wallet, she'll stay home on Election Day, or even vote GOP.

    March 20, 2014 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  6. Michael good

    This will increase the unemployment for women.

    March 20, 2014 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  7. JustASec

    The world shall end before Republicans anywhere will address this issue.

    You are a pathetic group of slobs, yes.

    March 20, 2014 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  8. rs

    Sorry, Mr. President, according to the GOP adult females in America are only "vessels" for fetuses, and therefore not equal (to anything). Such a bill will never control the GOP-controlled U.S. House of Representatives.

    March 20, 2014 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  9. cmsland

    He should lead by example and start with all female White House and Federal employees.

    March 20, 2014 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  10. inariokaimi

    @Tony D you mean like how George W Bush wrecked the education system with the "No Child Left Behind Act"? Or how he wrecked the economy by ignoring the warning signs of the housing market crashed? Or how he nearly trippled our national debt with 2 failed wars? Or how he caused us to borrow $1 Trillion Dollars fronm China?

    March 20, 2014 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  11. truthseeker

    In his first year in office 350,000 women lost their jobs. Just sayin'...

    March 20, 2014 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  12. Bigwavealex

    Raise miminum wage to 5000/ an hour!! We'll all be rich!! It can't fail.

    March 20, 2014 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  13. dnokc

    Jan. 29, 2009 President Obama signed his first law...anyone recall what it was? Indeed, the Lilly Ledbetter law "The Fair Pay Act". It's 2014 is he ready to finally enforce it? Or, like our immigration laws, just going to turn a blind eye to it? He can begin...by enforcing the law with the White House staff!

    March 20, 2014 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  14. Smack Dab

    All the women I know make more money than the men. This issue is about 20 years too late.

    March 20, 2014 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  15. truthseeker

    Gurgyl, are you willing to pay $8 for a burger at McDonald's?

    March 20, 2014 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  16. JohnnyBoy

    Women don't make as much as men? PLEASE!

    I know for a fact that I'm getting paid less than my female peers. Could it have something to do with the fact that I'm in a female dominated environment?

    Women are now graduating college at a higher rate then men, are earning just as much, if not more than men are. Feminism has morhped from a women's equality movement into one focused on the opression of men. It's sickening.

    March 20, 2014 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  17. sackett28

    Equal pay is great but it must come with equal work. No one should expect to take a job and then take a 3-6 month maternity leave and get paid the same as someone who worked that 6-12 months. It's not fair to the other employee's. It's not fair to the woman doing it either if she is the victim of another's maternity leave. It's also not fair that MANY mothers expect special treatment because they have kids. I for one would love to leave work early to see my kids and make dinner, but someone has to actually do the work, otherwise noone gets paid. Those that beg off early certainly aren't doing the work for me.

    Eat what you kill, that is fair for everyone. If you don't kill, then you don't eat.

    March 20, 2014 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  18. truthseeker

    He keeps showing up at the colleges because he knows it's the only friendly audience he has left. There are students in high school who are more articulate than he is. And certainly smarter.

    March 20, 2014 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  19. anothermuse

    The equal pay act already allows suits to be brought against employers who have discriminatory pay practices. This law does not change that it simply lowers the burden of the lawsuit. Meaning that it's intent is to make more plaintiffs richer. It does nothing to change a woman's paycheck, unless that woman is a trial attorney. This has nothing to do with equality, it has everything to do with providing more money to a huge portion of the DNC donors.

    March 20, 2014 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  20. Chris-E...al

    Yes the Dems always pushes for women until the election is over ! They dont do anything for them after that ! Or when they had all the houses in D.C. .! Another low life degrading lie to women . Thats such a sorry bunch is'nt it man ! I tell you what ! sic

    March 20, 2014 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  21. Elohel

    Rule #1 of Obama's Liberal Political Strategy -> Develop a spoken 'crisis' campaign against those who will need to vote lib in the election.

    Rule #2 of Obama's Liberal Political Strategy ->Get a group in place "rise up" in extreme, "in your face" ways to let the 'crisis' mature.

    Rule #3 of Obama's Liberal Political Strategy -> Demonize the opposition as "hating" the receiving party of the fabricated crisis to gain the votes.

    Rinse, repeat.

    March 20, 2014 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  22. CALIFORNIA

    Last I heard they still didn't have equal pay for equal work in the White House.

    Get your own house in order first Obama.

    March 20, 2014 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  23. dude

    We will raise your minimum wage, but in order to collect it, you must fire the worker beside you. Enjoy

    March 20, 2014 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  24. Joe

    Maybe if women did equal the work they would get equal the pay, or what if women actually learned how to negotiate their salary?

    March 20, 2014 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  25. Daft "The Fox in a Pink T-Shirt" Trolling

    But the whole "makes less than men" thing is a complete COMPLETE fallacy. women take risk less often than men, resulting in lower salaries when they do get into high power positions, and you cannot deny that there are some extremely powerful women in the this nation and abroad. Women are also less likely to take and to be physically capable of taking on demanding and dangerous (as well as high compensation) jobs like crab fishing, club security, welding, and etc.

    March 20, 2014 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
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