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The Obama administration is taking another "if Congress won't do the big stuff that needs doing, we'll do what we can" step, this time on equal pay. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was a nice first step, but it didn't come close to finishing the job, and this Congress won't pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which the president supports.

Without adequate government protection, information is an important way for women to protect themselves. To help provide information, the Obama administration has launched the Equal Pay App Challenge. Obama Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett explains:

Right now, if you're a woman in the workforce, it can be surprisingly difficult to answer basic questions about equal pay: what's the typical salary for someone in your position? Should you be asking for more at the negotiating table? What are your fundamental legal rights?

When the Equal Pay App Challenge is over, you'll have information that helps you answer these questions, available right on your smartphone or computer. We believe that the same types of innovations that help you find movie times or get a great deal at a restaurant can help you protect your rights in the workforce.

The challenge invites software developers to submit apps by March 31, with winners to be announced on April 17. Women need more than a smartphone app to guarantee fair pay, but with women earning 77 cents for every dollar men earn, it's good to see Obama keeping the issue in the public eye and trying to do something to improve matters.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Feb 06, 2012 at 01:51 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  let's hope for a good one (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worldlotus, uciguy30, Tamar, mdmslle, tb mare

    because that would be AWESOME! :)

    "If I can't change the world, I'll change the world within my reach" - Catie Curtis & Mark Erelli

    by Heather in SFBay on Mon Feb 06, 2012 at 02:18:56 PM PST

  •  Does EVERYONE in the feaking (6+ / 0-)

    world now have a Smartphone? I feel so left behind.

    I don't even know how apps work. For this to be effective, wouldn't employers have to disclose pay rates? Most are reluctant to do that.

    This information would be VERY handy to have, especially at interviews and assessment times. Hope something comes out of this.

    Nobody is normal because everyone is different- my eight year old daughter

    by left rev on Mon Feb 06, 2012 at 02:38:54 PM PST

    •  smartphones are addictive. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Meggie, tb mare, Sue B

      they're little teeny tiny powerful computers and phones you can do everything with. totally hooked.

      but to answer the other question, I'd think no, the employers don't have to provide anything. people could put in their own salaries. An app might ask for certain types of info like education level, experience level, job title, job description, location and salary. people could input and it would build the database. when you find out that the most others at their education and experience level are making half what a man of the same makes, well, there you go.

      I guess this is what they're trying to do.

      I've become re-radicalized. Thanks a lot you bunch of oligarchical fascist sons-of-bitches. But once again, I have no choice. Bring it the fuck on.

      by mdmslle on Mon Feb 06, 2012 at 02:43:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Addictive, and oddly enough easier (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tb mare, doraphasia

      than that old desktop.  

      "If you go all day without hitting or biting anyone, it was a good day." Patrick, age 4

      by Meggie on Mon Feb 06, 2012 at 02:47:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  We don't have one and do not plan to get one (0+ / 0-)

      We have a tablet instead which is very small and portable and we can download apps on that.  It is just that we have to use it where there is a wifi connection. But since we are home a great deal , it works for us. We use the cell phone for calls and texts only.

      My sister has a smart phone because she is so busy and seldom home. She has one so she can access the internet but she says once she retires, it will be a waste of money.  She did not recommend for internet use except if one is seldom home and wants to keep connected.

    •  When people ask me about... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      doraphasia

      ..."apps", I usually say, "Mild wings and a quesadilla, please!"

    •  I'm with you ... and i'm one of the few ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek

      ... people i know who doesn't have a cell phone either.  I feel very out of it at times.

      •  me too. and i'm a telephone systems engineer. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BusyinCA, estreya

        If I want that 1920 audio quality, I have a 90-year-old dial phone that sounds about the same as the latest whizzy smartphone.  By the mid 30s they sound better than the latest whizzy smartphone.

        Imagine a device that does everything but doesn't do anything particularly well, and spies on you while you aren't looking.  Not for me, no thanks.  

        Nonetheless, a brilliant idea from Team Obama because it will go viral and force open the wider conversation.  

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Mon Feb 06, 2012 at 08:40:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Agreed. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          estreya, G2geek

          And so it isn't just me then, that thinks smart phones have crappy audio.

          Good on Team O for doing something, even if it isn't all unicorns and rainbows like some critics seem to expect.

          "I don't need a script to tell the truth" Ed Schultz, Feb. 4 2010

          by BusyinCA on Mon Feb 06, 2012 at 10:24:27 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  nope. no cellphone here. (0+ / 0-)

      I get all the surveillance I need, for my tax dollars.

      Why pay more?

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Mon Feb 06, 2012 at 08:41:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The frustating thing about negotiating pay (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sue B, G2geek

    The thing I've found frustrating about negotiating pay is that you don't really have a feel for what others are actually earning due to the cultural bias towards not talking about it. I guess in some ways this is where unions come in, since the negotiation on salaries is conducted semi-publicly so everyone "knows" what everyone is making based on their title. But I don't know this from experience I just assume this is the way it is.

    I've always been intrigued by the approach Joel Spolsky has presented where they deal with this by making it clear what everyone makes at every level in the organization [1,2]. With a system like this there would be no wondering if the person sitting next to you doing the same job was making more money than you. If you were at the same level... you make the same money.

    With everything hidden it allows employers to try and get you for the cheapest they can... which could be seriously out of line with your peers depending on you ability to negotiate and essentially your own confidence in your own value as a worker. I've also found that it builds resentment if you think someone who is doing a worse job than you but you think is making more (whether it's true or not) can be a huge drain on morale.

    I wonder what would happen if every company were forced to publish data on their compensation. Would it be like having one giant collective bargaining agreement for all kind of different workers? At least the data would be interesting.

    •  Yes like where I used to work , there was a (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek

      payscale that was printed out and given to everyone.  It stated the pay per year of employment for each position. It went by Job Title only and each year, it showed what the raises would be for each job.  

    •  Companies (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek

      are getting away with murder right now.

      But you know Washington, women should work for less. Only fair. They are women.

    •  It had an amazing impact on CEO pay! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek

      CEO pay used to be private. When it went public CEO pay balooned because why would you run a company for $500K when the guy across the street is making $1M?

      When it was secret there was really no way of knowing what anyone else was making so CEO pay stayed on the low side. Same thing will happen with worker pay.

      •  make them BID for it, and low-bid wins. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BusyinCA

        Just like civil engineering contracts.

        If we can trust a low-bidder to build a dam or a bridge or some other thing that has life/death consequences if it fails, we can trust a low-bidder to run a publicly-traded corporation.  

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Mon Feb 06, 2012 at 08:43:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  the whole "negotiate" thing disgusts me. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BusyinCA

      What they're basically doing is selecting for poker-playing skills that have exactly nothing to do with actual job skills except where the job itself is a negotiating position.

      You can have two people sitting side-by-side, one, a highly competent worker who's a bit shy and got screwed for pay, the other an incompetent worker who's talent is in self-promotion and is raking in the dough.  

      That's a perverse incentive system in the worst way.

      And one of the great benefits of collective bargaining: skilled negotiators do that part, and workers can concentrate on doing what they're good at.  

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Mon Feb 06, 2012 at 08:46:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Clever, innovative... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wishingwell, tb mare, doraphasia

    Progressive.
    I like it!

    "If you go all day without hitting or biting anyone, it was a good day." Patrick, age 4

    by Meggie on Mon Feb 06, 2012 at 02:46:03 PM PST

  •  What a great idea! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wishingwell, tb mare, G2geek

    When I was in the job market it was really hard to find out what other people doing my job were making - you had to sneak around and it was almost forbidden to inquire - the human resources people definitely would not 'reveal personal information'. It was considered rude to inquire from your work associates. There were some professional associations that put out annual surveys - most helpful and I remember that was the only reason I belonged to them.

    Of course the law firms I worked for wanted it just that way. They didn't want you knowing their profits were in the gazillions whilst they were telling you at your review that 'the firm had a really bad year' and implying that you were lucky to have the friggin job.  You might be able to tell that I am relieved not to be in the job market now.

    To make this a competition for app creators is really clever. I do so hope that everything will be easier in the future to hold and prosper in a job - better health care - better pay - better childcare than when I was working. This is a good step in that direction.

    Silly Idiots Unite!! Focus group for silly idiots starting soon.

    by redstella on Mon Feb 06, 2012 at 02:46:53 PM PST

  •  While Republicans go nuts trying to force (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lawrence, tb mare, Sue B, G2geek, BusyinCA

    Women to have babies, the White House gives them a tool to make their lives a little easier.

    Wonder which one the vast majority of women (and women voters) will appreciate more?

    It's good, and it reinforces the women's vote.  Good move, Obama.

  •  Why (0+ / 0-)

    do we have to depend on an app to get equal pay for women? Is it because our government is so misogynistic and corrupt?

  •  Obama should have (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sue B

    taken this attitude a long time ago, if you want something done right, do it yourself, and screw Congress if they won't...

    Las Vegas Democrat Examiner | Examiner.com

    by David Phillips on Mon Feb 06, 2012 at 03:24:10 PM PST

  •  An Equal Pay app... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek

    ...is a great idea.

    I hope that the winning app includes legal language that prevents unscrupulous employers from flooding it with fake data.

    It should also cost a small fee to use -- perhaps $5.00 -- that will stop spammers and scammers from using it.

  •  Isn't it kind of ironic for a Labor silo (5+ / 0-)

    and the rest of us to be cheering the DNC soliciting for free labor?

    Can't DNC afford to hire actual programmers? Are things that tight?

    •  Actually I went to the site and the app (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek

      Remains the property of the developer. So I imagine that if DNC chooses one, negotiations begin.

      The site is called challenge-something or other.

      I've become re-radicalized. Thanks a lot you bunch of oligarchical fascist sons-of-bitches. But once again, I have no choice. Bring it the fuck on.

      by mdmslle on Mon Feb 06, 2012 at 04:22:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, that's better than the DNC offered (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek, joe shikspack

        to graphic designers in the 2012 convention "make us a free poster contest."

        Not only is the DNC assuming rights to the winner without any negotiations, everyone who entered surrendered their intellectual property rights to their work product by entering.

        This from the party that almost broke the Internet to protect Hollywood's intellectual property.

  •  Ummm... Salary.com? (0+ / 0-)

    Salary.com even shows differences in salary by region.

    Instead of re-inventing the wheel... oh, nevermind. Politicians love to re-invent the wheel.

    The Baptist Death Ray (wrightc [at] eviscerati [dot] org) "We are all born originals -- why is it so many of us die copies?"
    - Edward Young

    by The Baptist Death Ray on Mon Feb 06, 2012 at 04:30:17 PM PST

  •  In truth, (0+ / 0-)

    the Lily Ledbetter Act was no step at all.  It has had virtually no impact on resolving equal pay claims.  It makes me a little sad to see it touted as a significant accomplishment by the Administration.

  •  I may be a little late as far as traffic,but... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BusyinCA

    what in gawds name is the reason Congress won't pass equal pay legislation?! Besides the standard misogyny etc. - has there been a talking point as to why they won't do it?

    "...you have to be happy with what you have to be happy with..."

    by soundchaser on Mon Feb 06, 2012 at 07:20:34 PM PST

    •  You mean a reason besides (0+ / 0-)

      the Congress being mostly an old boys club run by ossified millionaires in the pockets of the corporations that enable them? Oh, you want a legitimate reason. No, there is no legitimate reason.

      "I don't need a script to tell the truth" Ed Schultz, Feb. 4 2010

      by BusyinCA on Mon Feb 06, 2012 at 10:29:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  That ... is ... surprisingly ... progressive (0+ / 0-)

    wow!

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