Publication Date

May 2005


The term "pay equity" originates from the fact that women as a group are paid less than men. In 2003, for example, women with a strong commitment to the work force earned about 76-79 cents for every dollar earned by men. As women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings have narrowed by just 15 percentage points over the past 40-plus years (from about 60% in the 1960s and 1970s to more than 70% since 1990), some members of the public policy community have argued that current anti-discrimination laws should be strengthened and that additional measures should be enacted. Others, in contrast, believe that further government intervention is unnecessary because the gender wage gap will narrow on its own as women’s labor market qualifications continue to more closely resemble those of men.


Suggested Citation
Vale, C. V. & Levine, L. (2005). Pay equity legislation in the 109th Congress (RL31867). Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.