At the rate the gender pay gap is closing, women in the U.S. can’t expect to be paid equally until at least 2119. The sad reality is that women are paid 80 percent of what men are paid for the same work — and the gap is even worse for women of color. Black women make just 68 percent, and Latina women just 54 percent, of what their male counterparts earn. Women can’t afford to wait 100 years for equal pay, so ahead of the midterms, Bustle asked all 529 current U.S. senators and representatives the question: As a member of Congress, what are you doing to ensure that men and women receive equal pay for equal work?
Recently, the United Kingdom instituted a policy that required employers with 250 or more employees to make salaries public information. The initial results showed a stark difference in the amount women are paid vs. men — across almost all industries. Similar initiatives also exist in countries like Iceland, Germany, and Australia. But in the United States, President Trump last year rolled back an Obama pay transparency regulation that would have gone into effect in 2018 and required companies to report how much they pay their employees.
We can't make employers disclose what they pay, but we knew we could ask the members of Congress who vote on legislation to describe what they're doing to end the gender wage gap and document their responses — or lack thereof.
Bustle contacted the offices of every voting member of Congress by both phone and email to give each the opportunity to respond. Bustle requested a statement up to three times via email, and those members of Congress who did not respond to any emails were contacted by phone. Some lawmakers matched Bustle's enthusiasm on the issue, while others declined to comment (staffers for some even hung up on us). Many more lawmakers simply didn't offer a response.
It may not surprise you that 57 percent of women in Congress, compared to 24 percent of men, offered a response to Bustle's inquiry. There was a very pronounced partisan split, too, with just 3 percent of Republicans in Congress responding compared to 63 percent of Democrats.
If you know that the gender pay gap and the racial pay gap are deeply intertwined, it also may not surprise you that — despite their underrepresentation in Congress — 49 percent of non-white members responded to our inquiry, compared to nearly 26 percent of white representatives.
Ultimately, 162 members of Congress shared with us what they're doing (or not doing) to address the gender pay gap. Their responses reveal just who in Washington cares about this issue — and who you can expect to continue the fight for equal pay.