President Obama hopes executive orders foster equal pay

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- Today, April 8, is Equal Pay Day. It's meant to highlight the number of extra days into the year the average woman has to work to earn as much as her male counterpart.

President Obama has made waves on this issue since he first took office, with the president signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act on his first day on the job. But after five years and little progress, the president today signed two executive order that he hopes will make sure that men and women who do the same work get the same pay.

"I’m going to take executive action to make it easier for working women to make a fair pay," President Obama said during his remarks.

The first executive order prohibits federal contactors from retaliating against employees who discuss their compensation. The second will set in motion the establishment of regulations that require contractors to submit compensation data on all employees to the Department of Labor.

Representatives from the Women's Resource Center of Sarasota say the issue goes way beyond government contracts.

"The reality is women still earn less than men," says Valerie Goddard, the Executive Director of the Women’s Resource Center.

According to U.S. Census statistics, women make about 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.

Data from the American Association of University Women shows the average salary for women on the Suncoast is about $4,500 less than for their male counterparts -- a discrepancy Goddard says is evident if you look.

"When women come to receive services here, one of the top issues they site on their intake form is financial insecurity ... so when you look at those factors you realize that the national trend is evident even here in Sarasota County,” she says.

Goddard also says the statistical gap remains despite gains in education level.

"There is still a discrepancy in the wage and earnings compared to men, even though we see the increase graduation level amongst women. So that means there are multiple factors involved," she says.

Goddard hopes these factors will begin to be addressed with the signing of President Obama's executive orders.

"When woman are adversely affected by their income, there wages, we know it affects their income, their children and their families, so [these orders] is really groundbreaking because [they] enables employers to really think and to strategize about how to implements fairness in the work place," Goddard says.