“Equal Pay App Challenge” to Help Close the Gender Pay Gap

by Secretary Hilda Solis and Aneesh Chopra on February 1, 2012 · 4 comments

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.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lori Flynn February 2, 2012 at 7:58 am

Good idea to empower women with information. I hope you will also consider re-entry internships, which could greatly help women’s careers. Many women take time off to raise small children, and re-entry takes too much time and sets women’s careers back much farther than it should. I am particularly concerned with STEM career re-entrants, and hope that you two can work to implement STEM career re-entry internships. In the U.S. and many other countries, it is not possible to get an internship if you are not a student. A re-entry internship is something we wish existed in the U.S.! A lot of re-entry tech workers would be happy to work for intern wages temporarily, in order to update skills and quickly return to a tech career. Interestingly, there are many scholarship programs for women to get STEM degrees, but then when women do the common thing of taking time off with young children, there isn’t any program to help re-entry to STEM fields. This affects everyone, because when tech re-entrants can’t find jobs, money spent on their education is less productive. The U.S. has visa programs for international technical workers because there aren’t enough qualified U.S. workers in STEM fields… but with a short re-entry internship, U.S. workers could become highly qualified again. (The Daphne Jackson program in the United Kingdom is a good model. It helps professionals in STEM fields to re-enter their careers after at least a 2-year break, through paid fellowships that include research and retraining. However, it is limited to residents of the U.K.) Please see https://sites.google.com/site/techcareerreentry/wishlist for more discussion on the topic.

2 AJ Alvarez March 19, 2012 at 1:34 pm

This issue of equality will not be such an issue if we dwell on what we think is not equal. Sometimes the fight for equality only exude an impression that we are trying to cover-up our weaknesses.

3 Seria April 16, 2012 at 9:42 am

I think that at present level of social development of society a gap in a salary not possibly to overcome as people will always want to receive for difficult work more.

4 Institute For Coaching June 24, 2013 at 3:55 pm

I hope you will consider internships, which could greatly help women’s careers.

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