A woman in the US earns 77 cents for every dollar that a man makes, on broad average, and women of ethnic minorities earn much less.
That is despite equal pay being enshrined by law.
At the 11th annual Glassdoor conference, which is dedicated to equal pay, keynote speaker Hillary Clinton needed a fresh and inspiring role model to highlight.
The presidential candidate chose Megan Rapinoe, the midfielder on the US national women’s soccer team, who, alongside four team mates, sued the United States Soccer Federation for wage discrimination.
“We cheered when they won the World Cup and we cheered when they won the Olympic Gold medal and we noticed that our men’s team hasn’t yet done that,” said Ms Clinton at the conference in New York. "And yet somehow the men are making hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the women."
“Now you know the phrase equal pay for equal work,” she continued. “Well, in America we believe in equal pay for equal play, too, and that’s why we need to elevate this issue.”
The women’s football team won the World Cup in 1991, 1999 and 2015 and were runners-up in 2011. The men have never won a World Cup - their best result was third place in 1930.
Ms Rapinoe said that learning how much profit the women’s football team made for the Federation prompted her team to pursue equal pay.
“I think this year, after winning the World Cup, the victory tour, all of these games, the incredible success we’ve had, we were still grappling with that [retort that the women’s team don’t make as much money as the men], we didn’t have the numbers,” she said. “We can go to a stadium with 50,000 people and do 10 games in a row but we still didn’t have the numbers.”
The team then discovered they had generated an excess of $17 million, according to numbers released from the US Soccer Federation.
“That was the tipping point, we had the feeling, we had all the facts, and the support from the country,” said Ms Rapinoe.
Ms Clinton added that the issue has “universal repercussions” for families and the broader economy.
She said that in 2014 women earned 79 per cent of what men are paid, but African American only get equivalent to 60 per cent and for Latino women it’s just 55 per cent.
"Last time I checked there’s no discount for being a woman. Groceries don’t cost us less and rent doesn’t cost us less so why should we be paid less?"
California and New York have recently raised their minimum wages to $15 per hour, and women carry out two thirds of minimum wage work.
Ms Clinton said she hopes “the rest of the country will catch up”.
“Women all over deserve a raise,” she said.
“I absolutely reject that [we cannot fight this gap]. We can do it if we summon the political will.”
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