Tuesday marks National Equal Pay Day in the U.S. — a day where organizations, policymakers and activists aim to highlight the continuing pay disparities between men and women.
While significant progress has been made to bridge the pay gap between genders in the last 40 years, little has changed this millennium.
U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden made remarks in the East Room of the White House to mark the day and celebrate Women's History Month. Vice President Kamala Harris did not attend as a precaution after the first gentleman, Doug Emhoff, tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the day. The Vice President tested negative.
A statement from White House spokesperson Sabrina Singh on Tuesday said, "Earlier today, the Second Gentleman tested positive for COVID-19. Out of an abundance of caution, the Vice President will not participate in tonight’s event. The Vice President tested negative for COVID-19 today and will continue to test."
According to the Economic Policy Institute, women were paid 22.1% less on average than men in 2021, even after counting for race and ethnicity, education, age and geography. That figure has stayed fairly consistent since the early '90s.
According to MSNBC, some analysts believe the wage gap still persists because women are overrepresented in the lowest-paying jobs, which include childcare and caretaking.
But analysts also say that pay disparity is still rampant in white-collar jobs. According to the labor advocacy group Women Employed, women with master's degrees working full-time jobs are paid 71 cents on the dollar compared to men.
The National Committee on Pay Equity is encouraging women to wear red on Tuesday "to symbolize how far women and minorities are 'in the red' with their pay."
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are both slated to deliver remarks about the gender wage gap from the White House on Tuesday.
As part of those remarks, the Biden administration will unveil new regulations they say will help promote pay equity throughout the country. Those regulations include a proposal to ban the use of prior salary history in the hiring and pay-setting process for federal employees, requesting the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council enhance pay equity and transparency and issuing directives to federal agencies to analyze the concentration of women in low-wage jobs.
Vice President Kamala Harris will deliver her address on National Equal Pay Day at a 2:15 p.m. ET bill signing at the White House. Biden and the first lady will give their own remarks on the holiday in a separate event at the White House at 5:15 p.m. ET.