Yesterday, we celebrated the launch of an open innovation initiative to eliminate the gender gap in pay. Working together with the National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force, we commenced the “Equal Pay App Challenge” – a national competition to develop software applications, or “apps,” that leverage public data to promote equal pay for men and women.
Last Tuesday in his State of the Union address, President Obama recognized that “an economy built to last is one where we encourage the talent and ingenuity of every person in this country.” “That,” the President emphasized, “means women should earn equal pay for equal work.”
In America, women make up half of the workforce and two-thirds of our families rely on a mother’s wages for a significant portion of their income. Yet, women, on average, make less on the dollar than men, and the gap is even greater for women of color and women with disabilities. Lower pay not only means less economic security for women, but also for the families that depend on them.
The President is committed to closing the pay gap once and for all. The first bill he signed into law, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, helps women who were victims of pay discrimination recover their wages. The President then created an inter-agency Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force to crack down on equal pay law violations. And yesterday’s announcement is yet another way the administration is working to accomplish this goal.
The Equal Pay App Challenge calls on developers to incorporate publicly available data and resources to create innovative, easy-to-use apps that educate users about the pay gap and provide tools to combat it. By encouraging developers to help us solve this problem, we’re leveraging the unique ability of the federal government to provide mountains of valuable data as well as the innovation power of the private sector.
We’ve successfully done this before – to help veterans transition to civilian employment, we celebrated “Apps for Heroes”; to empower women we celebrated “Apps Against Abuse”; and to improve childhood nutrition, we celebrated “Apps for Healthy Kids.”
Now, for The Equal Pay App Challenge, we’ve designed it to:
- Increase access to pay data aggregated by gender, race, and ethnicity through tools that can help women throughout their careers as they negotiate starting pay, request a promotion or a raise, or consider switching fields to a more lucrative career path.
- Provide interactive tools for early career coaching to educate young women on the pay gap and enable informed decision-making when selecting a career path.
- Help inform negotiations by providing feedback and tips that guide women through the process of negotiating starting salary, pay rate, job level, or requesting a promotion or raise.
- Promote online mentoring by providing a means to connect with others in broader communities.
Achieving equal pay for women is not just the right thing to do – it is vital to strengthening our country’s economic forecast. In launching the app challenge, we are proud to enlist new partners in this critical effort and take a significant step forward in closing the gender pay gap.
Additional information and submission guidelines for the Equal Pay App Challenge are available at http://equalpay.challenge.gov. The winner of the challenge will be announced in April.
Aneesh Chopra is the United States Chief Technology Officer.