The struggle for women’s rights and equality have been the basis for much legislation through the years. Some have passed the House and Senate, while others have failed. Issues of improving working conditions, entry into occupations formerly held by men, and equal pay for equal work have been addressed by this effort, among many others.
Although tremendous strides have been made in all areas, women’s wages in 2013 still stood at about 79 cents on every dollar when compared to wages for men. Just a few records from the National Archives and the White House provide a glimpse of this still-continuing process.
The Equal Pay task force report to the President of June 2013 gives a good review of the background of this continuing struggle since 1963, when the Equal Pay act was passed.
Many significant materials can be found in DocsTeach documents and the National Archives Online Catalog that illustrate this ongoing struggle.
Among them are just a few of the materials available:
- 2/22/1942 – Speech by Mary Anderson, Director of the Labor Women’s Bureau, on American and British women’s contribution to the war effort, including women’s pre-war difficulties getting into industry, their usefulness once employed, and the types of jobs women took. Anderson also urged equal wages for women in war plants.
- November 9, 1943 – Telegram from Ben Woodward (President of Local 599 of the United Automobile, Aircraft, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW-CIO), Flint, Michigan) to William H. Taylor of the National War Labor Board (NWLB) urging that the NWLB hold hearings as soon as possible on equal pay for women.
- June 19, 1944 – House Resolution 5056 prohibiting discrimination in pay on account of sex. This was one of the first attempts to pass federal legislation, but it did not pass Congress.
- June 10, 1963 – President Kennedy signs the Equal Pay Act.
- June 10, 1963 – The Equal Pay Act of 1963
- January 29, 2009 – Remarks of President Obama at the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Bill.