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. Expat American

    Carlos, you are absolutely right. Republicans blindly oppose any policies the President proposes. And how the GOP feels about women is no mystery. Which is why it is so unfathomable that any woman besides the mentally sick Palin mob would vote for a Republican.

    March 20, 2014 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  2. Brian

    Except in his administration.

    March 20, 2014 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  3. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ LEE ISSA RUBIO GOP conservatives the GARBAGE AND SEWAGE of AMERICA what have they accomplished in the lat five years??? They lost at least 50BILLIN DOLLARS and got nothing for it just this year.

    Well,at least the dems TRY TO Do SOMETHING FOR the American people. WHAT do THE KOCH BROTHERS GOP do beside give the Koch clowns more tax breaks while the spend their DADDYS MONEY. The GOP is totally worthless to their dumbed down GOP base and ALL the American people . Don't vote for this GOP TRASH!!!!!

    March 20, 2014 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  4. Logictox

    Why does government have to dictate policy and pay to private business? I usually negotiate my contracts, isn't that the best way to get the best pay? How much of my life do I really need the government to dictate to me?

    March 20, 2014 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  5. Caseyhd

    What's Obama thinking? This country was not founded on the idea that all people are created equal ....... Uh o crap.

    March 20, 2014 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  6. J Anthony

    Its funny that anyone anyone believes Obama is "far left" anything. He talks progressive, but walks corporate-centrist. This country has swung so painfully to the right over the last 4 decades, Nixon would be to liberal for today's Republicans.

    March 20, 2014 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  7. tim

    I wonder if he ever looked at the stats concerning gender attending college and gaining degrees. Women are outpacing men in this area and the last time I looked, they are gaining in controlling companies. My eldest daughter who just graduated college and got her first job and is now living on her own would, just love to talk to the president now that she has seen her first check and found it thirty percent less due to all the taxes. That one check educated her more about real life than $160,000.00 in educational costs and four years of living on a campus. She says everyone that visited asking for votes told them everything was free. Never saw her so angry and all I could do was laugh to myself while I tried to console her. Equal pay is good for votes and more government revenue...LOL

    March 20, 2014 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  8. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Just say you're against it Mr. President, they'll be all over it like a cheap suit.

    March 20, 2014 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    This is a stupid argument because it doesn't take into account different jobs and choices. That is what makes up the difference.

    March 20, 2014 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  10. porchhound

    Yeah why don't YOU start with YOUR administration Mr President? How many articles have come out in the past year covering the grossly unequal pay with your staff and Congress in general?

    March 20, 2014 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  11. Noah Andrew

    This was a campaign promise that Obama made several years ago... I'm glad to see that he is following through with it! It's ridiculous that this sort of inequality has been allowed to go on in America.

    March 20, 2014 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  12. alex

    It is a damn republican shame that we are still fighting this fight.

    March 20, 2014 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  13. Bob

    The economy has rebounded, two wars ended, Auto industry saved, Bin Laden dead, HealthCare for millions who never could afford it, and now equal pay, when is this left-wing agenda going to end its destroying America. Really!

    March 20, 2014 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  14. Ace

    This will turn into a big legal battle with corporations being slammed with lawsuits and the lawyers being the only winners, who says King Barry doesn't know what he is doing?

    March 20, 2014 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  15. The Republican Party Is Dead To Me

    And if you listen real close you can hear a republican, whining about the lack of funds to do so. In the future lets call it what it is. No C.E.O. Left Behind. Like that will ever happen.

    March 20, 2014 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  16. Wes

    We will be lucky if any of us has a job after the uhbama is finished destroying the country.

    March 20, 2014 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  17. Logical

    As he pays his women less than the men he employs, he's complaining about others....

    March 20, 2014 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  18. Say it ain't so

    I mist admit i don't like obama all that much but with this, he's got my full support.

    March 20, 2014 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  19. Cornhusker

    I always laugh at this womens equal pay thing sometimes. I am all for it if they do equal work. I work with a women in the oil field and she does half the amount of work i do cause she isnt as strong. Here is the kicker when this happens she says well im a women. And i should get equal pay cause i cant lift as much as you or do all the moving of things like you do cause im a women. To me thats not equal thats women wanting to have the best of both words and how is that fair? So all you women rights people tell me how its fair?

    March 20, 2014 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |

    Why is obama talking about higher pay for women? In his administration, male employees make more than their female counterparts. It is ongoing war that the democrats have with women.

    March 20, 2014 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  21. Angel Brabant

    Obama always speaks as if he has some new idea, and if he is running against someone. And, his speeches are always the same. He has been in office for over five years. All his speeches are campaign speeches.

    Equal pay for women? How about jobs? OH, but wait, while destroying jobs, he can fool some people by talking about such things as pay. Obama's speeches are always 180 degrees from what he is actually doing. Destroying jobs.

    March 21, 2014 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  22. Libzombies

    Well he can start with the women in his own administration

    March 21, 2014 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  23. BErnard

    obama believe in equal right for men & women

    March 21, 2014 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  24. Wes

    He pays women in the white house staff less than men... Why doesn't he close the income gap at home before pushing an agenda upon others?

    March 21, 2014 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  25. rockribbedrushy

    More access to higher education? How come I keep reading how there are more women in colleges, eh?

    March 21, 2014 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
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