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AP: ap_1af94faad093c90d500f6a7067007820
President Barack Obama greets people in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 8, 2014, during an event marking Equal Pay Day. The president announced new executive actions to strengthen enforcement of equal pay laws for women. The president and his Democratic allies in Congress are making a concerted election-year push to draw attention to women's wages. Lilly Ledbetter is at left in green. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

On Equal Pay Day, businesses and women still have a lot to address

April 8th is equal pay day, which means that based on average earnings, a woman has to work this long to make up the difference between what she and a man earned in 2013.

CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger says we're running out of excuses for this ongoing problem, "We're making less than the guys."

"Women basically earn about 76 percent of men's earnings," said Schlesinger.

But every time Dave Ross talks about a story like this and shares the latest numbers on the gender wage gap, he gets 10 or 20 emails saying, 'Dave, don't you know that that number is fabrication?'

So he asked Schlesinger why that number isn't made up.

"It's based on statistical analysis by a non-profit organization that would love to be able to show that women make as much as men. But they don't," she said.

Schlesinger said part of the good news that came out this week is the gender wage gap might be a problem that younger women have to face less and less.

"If you look at age groups...if you're under the age of 34, women still make less than men but, the differential is much narrower. It's about 90 percent."

According to Schlesinger, that means something changes mid-career. A lot of people say it has to do with women opting out of a career in order to stay home with the family.

"They pull out of the labor force and as a result, obviously the earnings for people who want to have flexibility part-time and do motherhood and working, that has to be lower than people who are there full-time," she said.

But while that might seem like it makes sense, when you dig into the data, for people who stick with their careers, versus being a stay-at-home mom, women still make less.

"I think it's silly not to acknowledge that there's sexism in the work force because this is not something we should actually be talking about. It's not an issue of, 'does that happen?' Of course it happens!"

Companies in Boston that are members of the "100% Talent: The Boston Women's Compact" are encouraged to take at least one of 33 steps to make their workplace more attractive to women. One of the those steps is publishing salary information so that a woman might know whether they're being discriminated against.

"When I was in that business (Wall Street ...) I was one of eight women on the floor of the commodities exchange with 800 men," said Schlesinger. "So I get it, I get how it's hard to navigate that and you sort of want to put your head down and get recognized for what you do."

She said that a lot executives say they really would like to do more, but then they don't advance women into leadership positions.

Schlesinger also thinks there is something in the way women are programmed that can get in their own way.

She said knowing about salary, specifically, is helpful. "They did a great study and found that women who actually argue for raises for other women do a great job for laying out the case. But when they do it for themselves, it's not so great. So I don't think it's all on the women. I don't think it's all on the organization, but there are still some things there that need to get addressed."

KIRO Radio's Dave Ross contributed to this report.

Alyssa Kleven, MyNorthwest.com Editor
Alyssa Kleven is an editor and content producer at MyNorthwest.com. She enjoys doting over her adorable dachshund Winnie - named for Arcade Fire front-man Win Butler.
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