U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, used a Pembroke Pines beauty academy as a backdrop Tuesday to bash Congressional Republicans for holding up legislation that she says would address the gender pay gap.
The bill, Paycheck Fairness Act, would require employers to prove that any difference in pay is unrelated to gender and prevent employees from being fired for sharing salary information, among other things.
“On average women make 79 cents per every dollar that men make doing the same job,” said Wasserman Schultz, who is the chair of the Democratic National Committee. That adds up to about $430,000 over their career, she said.
The disparity is especially bad in Wasserman Schultz’s Broward/Miami Dade district. It has the largest pay gap in the state: 75 cents, according to the American Association of University Women. Statewide it is 85 cents.
Wasserman Schultz’s comments came on “Equal Pay Day” -- a nationwide event to publicize the gender pay gap.
But just how much of what is said about the gender pay gap is accurate?
The gender pay gap is real, but Democrats sometimes flub the wording in their statements about the 79-cent gap or a similar figure, as PolitiFact has explained. We will use President Barack Obama as an example of how the pay gap can be explained wrongly or accurately.
President Barack Obama said in 2012, “Women (are) paid 77 cents on the dollar for doing the same work as men.” That rated Mostly False.
But in his 2014 State of the Union address, Obama said women “still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.” That rated Mostly True.
The key difference is the notion that men and women are doing the same work.
The 77-cent figure, which is now around 79 cents, does not apply to men and women who hold the same job. Instead it refers to all women’s earnings compared to all men’s earnings, regardless of their occupations. And the 77-cent figure doesn’t take into account other factors such as the fact that men have typically held their jobs longer than women in the same position.
If you look at men and women working in the same professions, the pay gap is much smaller -- though it doesn’t disappear entirely. For computer programmers, for instance, women earn 95 cents for every dollar a man earns, PolitiFact wrote in 2012.
The Republican National Committee Co-Chair Sharon Day of Fort Lauderdale released a statement about Equal Pay Day:
“Women are an integral part of our economy and deserve equal pay for equal work. Republicans believe we must focus on real solutions geared toward job creation and opportunity for women.”
Day also noted that women in Hillary Clinton’s Senate office and women in Obama’s White House were paid less than men.
That can be misleading, too.
Salary data for White House employees show a gap in average pay for men and women, but when job titles are similar, the pay tends to be the same.
In 2015, the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website, published its analysis of salaries among Clinton’s Senate staffers from 2002-08. The website said it showed female staffers were paid 72 cents for every dollar earned by a man.
But that excluded certain information including employees who didn’t work a full year or Senate staffers who took leaves to work on the political side.
Clinton’s campaign provided data for all staffers whether they worked a full year or not and it showed an equal media salary of $40,000 when excluding Clinton’s pay.