|For Immediate Release
|April 7, 1999
MRS. CLINTON: Thank you and welcome to the White House.Please be seated. We are delighted to have you here this afternoonto help commemorate Equal Pay Day, which is tomorrow. I'm glad tosee so many both new and old faces in the fight for equal pay. Andwe know that this is a struggle that has taken some time. We've madea lot of progress, but I hope that we'll eventually see the end ofEqual Pay Day, because the goal will have been achieved and we won'thave to have any sessions like this, where we continue to talk aboutit.
We know that women who walk into the grocery store arenot asked to pay 25 percent less for milk. They're not asked bytheir landlords to pay 25 percent less for rent. And they should nolonger be asked to try to make their ends meet and their familyincomes what they should be by having 25 percent less in theirpaychecks.
Many people have worked for the goal of equal pay overthe years, and I want to thank some who are here, starting with ourwonderful Secretary of Labor, Alexis Herman; as well as a greatadvocate for equal pay and women's rights -- has nothing to do withthe wife he has or the daughters he's raised -- but Senator TomHarkin, who is a real champion. (Applause.) Also CongresswomanEleanor Holmes Norton is here with us. (Applause.) EEOC ChairwomanIda Castro. (Applause.) And I want to thank two local officials whoare here, Lewiston Mayor Callie Tara (phonetic) and GeorgiaRepresentative Sharon Beasley for their contributions, as well.(Applause.)
I also want to say a special word of appreciation toLinda Chavis Thompson in the AFL-CIO; Gail Schafer (phonetic) in theBusiness and Professional Women; Susan Bianci-Sand (phonetic) in theNational Committee on Pay Equity. Together, these groups have helpedlead the fight for pay equity, and they will be organizing hundredsof grass-roots events around the country tomorrow.
In a few minutes, we're going to hear from our fourpanelists. They will be able to tell you in their own words why theyare here. But when you have heard from Professor Nancy Hopkins,Sanya Tyler, Carolyn Gantt and Patricia Higgins, you will appreciate-- as I think all of us who've ever been in the world of word do --the struggles and the challenges and the victories that they havefaced, and the way they represent somany other women.
One of my staff members was home for the holidays lastweek, and there was a cartoon stuck up on the refrigerator in herhouse. I mean, that's where everybody keeps all of theirreminders, their namesakes, their children's drawings, and allthe important documents, at least in my experience. And hermother, without knowing anything about this day and thisparticular commemoration, had cut out a cartoon which showed sixpeople sitting around a conference room table, all in suits, allwearing glasses, all men. And one of them announces, gentlemen,we must cut our expenses in half, so I'm replacing each of youwith a woman. (Laughter.)
Now, clearly, things are not as bad as the cartoon.You know, they have to exaggerate to get our attention. Andthings clearly have improved. As a recent Council of EconomicAdvisors report makes clear, the gap between women's and men'swages has narrowed since 1963. But women still bring home onlyabout 75 cents for every man's dollar.
And I think it's important that, despite this long-timeinequity, there are still those who claim that this is a made-upproblem, that any wage gap between men and women can be explainedaway by the choices that women make. And we all know thatindividual women, thank goodness, make different choices -- thatwomen, for personal reasons, or other professional reasons, maychoose a particular career or work pattern that results in lowerwages. But this is not an accurate finding, and those whopromote it should look at the entire picture and the studies thathave been repeatedly which demonstrate the contrary.
Women at all ages, when you adjust for differences ineducation, experience and occupation -- as a recent CEA studyreport reminds us -- there is still a sizeable gap between men'sand women's salaries that can best be explained by onephenomenon, the continuing presence and the persistent effect ofdiscrimination -- sometimes in very subtle ways. And we'll hearabout some of that from one of our panelists.
In fact, recently, an important report issued by theMassachusetts Institute of Technology -- which one of ourpanelists will discuss -- looked at pay equity among tenuredfaculty and found that women at the School of Science werediscriminated against in diverse areas, including hiring, awards,promotions, committee assignments and the allocation of resourcessuch as lab space and research dollars. This report showed thateven women who supposedly break through the glass ceiling andreach the highest echelons of their professions still findthemselves bumping up against some gender discrimination.
So I think it's fair to say that when you have some ofthe best scientists in the world taking a look at this issue inone institution and coming to these conclusions, and then that,in turn, supports the broader findings that have been derivedfrom looking at society at large, we know that we do have a wagegap that we have to address. And it's not just a gap in wages,it's a gap in our nation's principles and promises.
So it's a great pleasure for me to be here with theSecretary of Labor and the panelists whom you'll hearfrom, and it's a particular pleasure to introduce the President,who reminded Senator Harkin in my presence a few minutes ago thatuntil he became President, I always made more money than he did,and the wage gap went the other direction in our family.(Laughter.) But since I've been a full-time volunteer now forsix and a half years -- (laughter) -- the gap is narrowing, evenin the Clinton family.
So, please join me in welcoming the President.(Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: That is the truth. (Laughter.) ButHillary didn't tell you the rest of the story. Senator Harkin,whose wonderful wife, Ruth, was also a part of our administrationfor several years, she has often made more money than herhusband. And so we decided that maybe we should become part of asmall, but vocal radical caucus saying we shouldn't stop at equalpay; we like it when our wives make more money than we do.(Laughter.) We have enjoyed the benefits of that.
I would like to thank Senator Harkin and Eleanor HolmesNorton for being here and for being longtime champions of thiscause. I thank Ida Castro, our EEOC Chair, the local officialswho are here and Secretary Herman, who bares a lot of theresponsibilities for what we are trying to achieve for her work.
I'd like to make just a few brief points. Hillary hasmade most of the points that need to be made, and we all knowhere we're preaching to the saved in trying to get a message outto the country. But I'd like to point out as I tried to do inthe State of the Union that the time in which we are living nowin terms of our economic prosperity is virtually unprecedented.We had 4.2 percent unemployment last month.
I remember a meeting I had and a huge argument I had inDecember of 1992 when I had been elected but not inauguratedPresident, about how low we could get unemployment beforeinflation would go up. And all the traditional economists said,man, when you get below six percent, you know, you will just seewhat will happen. And the American people turned out to be a lotmore productive, a lot more efficient; technology turned out tobe a lot more helpful; we were in a much more competitiveenvironment. So now, we have 4.2 percent unemployment, lowestrate since 1970, lowest peacetime unemployment since 1957, 18million new jobs.
But we still have some significant long-term challengesin this country. We have pockets of America -- in rural America,in urban America; our medium-size industrial cities; our NativeAmerican reservations -- which have not felt any of the impact ofthe economic recovery. We still have substantial long-termchallenges to Social Security, to Medicare. And we still have asignificant fact of inequality in the pay of women and men.
And the central point I would like to make is that weshould not allow the political climate or anything else to deterus from concentrating our minds on the fact that this is aprecious gift that the American people have received, even thoughthey have earned it. Countries rarely have conditions like this.If we can't use this moment to deal with these long-termchallenges, including the equal-pay challenge, when will we everget around to it?
That is the message I want America to send back toWashington. Yes, have your disagreements. Yes, have yourfights. Yes, conduct your campaigns. Yes, do all this. But forgoodness sakes, realize that this is, at a minimum, theopportunity of a generation, maybe more. And every singleproblem that we can take off the table for our successors and forour children is an obligation we ought to show them and get thejob done. That's what this is about.
And those of us who are old enough to remember what theeconomy was like in the 1970s and the long gas lines, what it waslike in the 1980s when we had the so-called bicoastal economy andmy state and Senator Harkin's state had double-digit unemploymentin county after country -- I'm telling you, when times get toughand then you go run and try to talk to people about problems likethis, their eyes glaze over because even the people who wouldbenefit, they're just trying to keep body and soul together.They're worried about holding on to what they have.
We have an opportunity now to make a better America forour children, for all of our children.
The second point I want to make is the one I madejokingly in the story about Tom and me having the privilege ofliving with women who make more money than we do. And that isthat this is not just a women's issue. The women who arediscriminated against often are in families, raising childrenwith husbands who are also hurt if their wives work hard anddon't have the benefits of equal pay. A lot of the women who aresingle mothers are out there working and they have boy childrenas well as girl children. This is not just a gender issue andmen should be very interested in this.
I can say furthermore that I believe that it would begood for our overall economy. You know, you hear all theseproblems that they say it will cause the economy if you do this.All that stuff is largely not true. I mean, every time we try tomake a change to have a stronger society, whether it's a raise inthe minimum wage or cleaning up the environment or passing theFamily Leave law, the people that are against it say the samething. And we now have decades of experience in trying toimprove our social fabric.
And America has had a particular genius in figuring outhow to do these things in a way that would permit us to generatemore economic opportunity and more jobs and more advancement.I'd like to note, too, a third point not in my notes, but Hillarymade me think of it. There are all these people now who are outthere saying, well, there really isn't much of an equal payproblem because it's almost exclusively confined to women whohave children. And women who have children have to have moreintermittent periods in the work place -- you've heard all thearguments -- and once you factor that out, well, there's noproblem.
Well, I have two reactions to that. First of all, ifyou take that argument to its logical conclusion, we would bedepopulating America before you know it. No one else has reallyfigured out any way to bring children around, as far as I know.(Laughter.)
Secondly, if that is true, it still doesn't make itright. If you give the people the entire argument -- which Idon't think the analysis supports -- but if you did, what doesthat mean? It means that an important part of the equal paybattle should be strengthening the Family and Medical Leave law,for example -- something I've been trying to do without successever since we signed the first bill. It ought to apply to morecompanies, it ought to be more extensive, it ought to cover moresituations. We've proved that we can do this without hurting theeconomy.
And if you believe that having children is asignificant factor here, and if you believe as I do that's themost important work of any society, then why shouldn't wecontinue with something that's done so much good, this FamilyLeave Law -- to find other ways to do it, to find otherincentives for flex-time, all kinds of things we could be doingif this is a problem.
Now, finally, let's talk a little bit about what Ithink we can do about this right now. Earlier this year, I askedCongress to pass two measures to strengthen our wagediscrimination laws and to boost enforcement of existing ones. Iasked Congress again to pass the $14-million Equal Pay Initiativethat's in our balanced budget to help the EEOC identify andrespond to wage discrimination, to educate employers and workersabout their rights and responsibilities. You'll hear some prettyimpressive people talk about that on our panel in a moment. Andto help bring more women into better-paying jobs.
Again, I ask the Congress to pass the Paycheck FairnessAct sponsored by Senator Daschle and Congresswoman DeLauro, whichwould put employers on notice that wage discrimination againstwomen is just as unacceptable as discrimination based on race orethnicity. Under current law, those who are denied equal paybecause of race can receive compensatory and punitive damages.This new legislation would give women the same right; it willmake a difference. It would protect employees who share salaryinformation from retaliation. It would expand training for EEOCworkers, strengthen research, establishing an award for exemplaryworkers.
We can do more. Today, I'm pleased to announce that wewant to strengthen our legislation by requiring the EEOC todetermine what new information on workers' salaries they need toimprove enforcement of wage discrimination laws, and to find away to collect that information. The new provision would call onthe EEOC to issue a new rule within 18 months to gather, in themost effective and efficient way possible, pay data fromcompanies based on race, sex and national origin of employees.
Addressing wage discrimination takes courage, as ourpanelists can tell you. It takes courage as an employee to speakout, to gather evidence, to make the case. It takes courage asan employer to recognize problems in pay equity, and take stepsto remedy them.
Just recently -- let me just mention the experience ofone of our panelists -- we saw this courage among theadministrators and women scientists at MIT, one of our country'smost outstanding institutions of higher education. Together,they looked at the cold, hard facts about disparities ineverything from lab space to annual salary. They sought to makethings right, and they told the whole public the truth about it,which is a rare thing. And I appreciate what they did. Icommend them. I hope their success and their example can bereplicated throughout our country.
Now, again I say, this should not be a partisan issue.It should be an American issue. And as you argue through thesematters this year, I ask you, every time you are in contact withany person in a position to vote on this in Congress or influencea vote in Congress, ask them this simple question: Ifwe don't deal with this now, when will we ever get around to it?
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
SECRETARY HERMAN: Thank you, Mr. President and Mrs.Clinton for your stirring words; but, especially, we thank youtoday for your leadership. Once again, the First Family isputting families first. And I know that all of us would agreethat the issues of equal pay and employment opportunity areclearly family issues. In my mind, my way of thinking about thisissue, the whole question of the Equal Pay Day is really a dayabout paychecks and reality checks. And the reality is that westill have pay discrimination in our country.
It is wrong, as we go into the new century, for womento still earn 75 cents for every dollar that is earned by a man.And I must tell you, as the First Lady was making her openingcomments, I couldn't help but think to myself, I have yet to gointo a grocery store to pay a dollar for a loaf of bread and tohave the store clerk look at me and say, "Oh, excuse me, you're awoman, you only have to pay 75 cents." It just doesn't work thatway. I think we all know that.
The fact of the matter is, women in this country haveto pay the same amount for goods and services, so we should bepaid the same amount for the work that we do. We all know thatwe need to have stronger enforcement of our laws. And what thePresident has announced today will clearly put us on a moredirect path to do that. But we also need to build awareness,because this is not an abstract challenge. This is a very realissue; it is as real as the women who are with us today, thestories that we will hear.
And I want to begin this dialogue, on behalf of thePresident and the First Lady, by asking each of our panel memberstoday to give us a very brief comment as to why this issue isimportant to you, from your perspective. And I'd like to beginthe dialogue with you, Nancy.
Nancy Hopkins is a professor from the MassachusettsInstitute of Technology.
PROFESSOR HOPKINS: Thank you very much, and thank youso much for this opportunity. I am a molecular biologist and aprofessor at MIT. And over the past five years, I was veryfortunate to be involved with 15 other tenured women in theSchool of Science in an extremely successful and collaborative,and happy, effort to address the question of equity, includingsalary equity, for women.
And what was remarkable about it, as Mr. and Mrs.Clinton said, was that in contrast to many of these stories, theyaddressed it in a very positive way, turning people's livesaround. And it has had an impact that we never thought about atall. We were just thinking about our own problem.
SECRETARY HERMAN: Thank you very much, Nancy.
Mrs. Gantt, can we turn to you? Carolyn Gantt is aclerk with one of our senior programs here in the nation'scapitol.
MRS. GANTT: My name is Carolyn Gantt, and I am aretired mother of seven children. I found inequity in paybetween men and women doing the same job, with the same educationand experiences, have made it necessary in my golden years towork part-time in order to survive. I saw men who started outwith me, at the same level. They received more promotions, morepay, and more training, than I did.
SECRETARY HERMAN: Thank you very much, Mrs. Gantt.
And Trish Higgins is here from Cleveland, Ohio. Trishis a nurse from Cleveland. Trish?
MS. HIGGINS: It's really, really great to be here. Asyou've just been told, I'm a nurse. I work in Cleveland; I'vehad 23 years of nursing experience, in geriatrics, pediatrics. Icurrently work in rehab nursing, primarily with spinalcord-injured patients, and the care of these patients and theirfamilies is complex. There are many medical and social issues,and that requires, from all of us nurses, a pretty extensivebackground of knowledge and skills, and we bring this to our workevery day.
I think that the work we do is obviously key to thecare hospitals provide. It can't be done without us, and yet Ithink that our work has been traditionally undervalued, andunderpaid. And that's why I'm here today.
SECRETARY HERMAN: And lastly, Sanya Tyler. Sanya isthe head of the women's basketball team, she's the coach atHoward University here in Washington, D.C. Sanya, thank you forcoming in. (Applause.)
MS. TYLER: I must apologize, I'm very hoarse. I thinkit was the change in weather from California back to Washington.But in 1991, I filed a Title IX discrimination lawsuit againstHoward University. And it's just not about Howard University.It's about being in an untraditional sport, and being a headcoach and to have, at that time, an opportunity to be successful-- which we were -- and to not be rewarded for it.
Not only was I not rewarded for it, it was ignored.Ignored to the point of my counterpart being hired and being paidfour times the salary that I was making. And I think somehow Imade the same excuses that many women make when they're tooembarrassed to identify with inequity. We somehow feel it's ourfault or something we didn't do, or some accomplishment we didn'treach, or some value we didn't possess. But that's not the case.
And I'm here today with my hoarse voice because this isso important an issue not just to coaches, but to the nation, towomen; not just a protected population, but all population. Andwe have a real issue -- the President has indicated that we havea real national issue that has to be addressed. I addressed it,and as a result of the lawsuit I had the landmark decision, anaward by jury of $2.39 million. Fortunate for me I'm still atthe same institution and the situation is so much better now.(Laughter and applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: I would like to just start. We'regoing to do a little roundtable and just give the participants achance to answer a few questions and amplify on their remarks.And taking account of Sanya Tyler's voice problems, I still wantto ask her one question, because obviously the situation atHoward and the situation at MIT were resolved in different ways.
After you won the lawsuit, did you feel that theadministration treated you and other people who were in the samesituation fairly? Did you feel like that the work environmentwas worse, and did you believe that the program also began to getmore support, as well as on the wages? Was Title IX and theother efforts you made, did you get more support for the programas well as for income?
MS. TYLER: Well, I can say and I'm very proud of whatHoward University has done since the lawsuit. We did take thepush to get us on our feet. But since then, the administration,even though it has changed, did begin a process of healingitself. And we added new sports, we fortified the sports thatexisted. We came into a new era under our current president who,clearly, from day one made it exceptionally clear to all thatwomen had a place in his administration, that females at hiscampus had a significant role in the development, growth and theleadership pattern of the university. And our program has grown.I have grown as an employee of the university, and we have nowreached what I consider to be a plateau of footing.
Are we where we should be? I don't think there is aninstitution in the nation that is where they should be. But weare so much further down the line than we were at that time.
MRS. CLINTON: I'd like to follow up on that, sincewe're talking about higher education, and ask Dr. Hopkins, couldyou describe how this came about? You know, when both thePresident and I were speaking, we said that there are some whosay that these are all choices and that there is noinstitutional, really, basis for considering pay equity as aproblem, other than individual preferences. And once you've madethat decision what you did during these five years and yourrecommendations and the results --
PROFESSOR HOPKINS: Yes. Well, I think that in termsof is this the result of choices that people make, I think what'sunusual about our group of women is we had only 15 tenured womenat the time we started five years ago. So after 25 years ofaffirmative action in the School of Science -- which is sixdepartments -- there were 15 tenured women and 194 tenured men.So this was not terrific, okay? (Laughter.) But one of thethings was that about half these women didn't even have children,so that certainly wasn't an issue. Many were not married, theyhad made a choice to have this particular life for whateverreason. So that really wasn't the thing.
And so the question was, you know, how did this comeabout and how did we get started. And what happened is thatthese women are so serious about science that they really didn'thave much time for anything else. They were very unpoliticalpeople. And the other thing is they're enormously successful.So if you were to look from the outside at these people you'dsay, well, what's wrong here, because many of these women aremembers of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy-- 40 percent of them are, in fact. So these are the top of theline, so you wouldn't think there was a problem.
And most young women entered MIT as junior facultybelieving there was no problem. And people, even myself, thoughtcivil rights and affirmative action solved all that. So it was avery slow awakening of these 15 people as they progressed throughtheir careers at MIT that something wasn't quite right. And whatit was was a very subtle thing, you could hardly point to asingle incident and say, that's it.
But what happened was that myself, one day I got veryupset about a particular incident, and finally, after 15 years ofwatching what was happening to other women you finally realizesomething was wrong and it was this, it was this gender thing.And so I wrote a very strong letter to our president and I said,you've got to do something about this. And it was so strong thatI thought I better run it by another woman and get her opinion --(laughter) -- have her just delete a few of those extremestatements I tend to make sometimes by mistake.
So she read this letter and she said, I'd like to signthat letter and I'll go with you to see the president. And Isaid, you will? Wow. So then, I thought that was really -- sowe decided we'd go and poll the others -- there were only were 15of them, so it was pretty easy to do the polling. (Laughter.)
And when we went to poll them, to our amazement, we'dstart the story and they'd say, where do I sign, before wefinished. So something was wrong. But what I think, then, wasamazing to us was, we then, being scientists, wanted to collectdata to see whether the data would support what we sort of hadreally come to realize through our life experience to be true.But we didn't know whether it would, you know.
But the next thing we did that was really helpful was,we went to the higher administration of MIT and asked them tohelp us do this. And that was a very tense moment, and that wasthe defining moment. So there were two key moments: one was thegroup having power, this group of women, because this was allthey had, this was us. And then the question was, how would theadministration respond. And President Vest (phonetic) and DeanBirgeneau who was supposed to be here, but his plane wascancelled, he was going to come -- were just fantastic andsupportive. And they said, just do it.
So I think it was a group of scientists asadministrators and a group of women approaching a problem in asimilar way. We went out, we got all the data, we measuredeverything up, we got the space, the lab space, the resources, weadded data tables full of tables, lots of data. (Laughter.) Andwe had -- the President said to me the other day, he said, we'rescientists, we looked at the data -- what could we say, but gowith the data? (Laughter.)
So it is a very remarkable story. As soon as they havethe data down in writing, down on the table, Dean Birgeneauimmediately began to fix things and very quickly changed thesepeople's lives. I mean, it was so easy to do once you had thisthing happen. And you sort of wonder why didn't we do thisbefore, and can this be a model for the rest of MIT, which iswhat MIT is now looking at.
MRS. CLINTON: You know, one of the reasons why the MITstory is so important and the way Nancy just described it is sotelling is that a lot of these issues that we're talking aboutreally are subtle, and they aren't immediately apparent. It'sjust that sense of unease or unfairness that you can't quiteshake off, but you're almost embarrassed to follow up on whatsome of the other panelists have said to raise it because it isso subtle and you can't quite put your finger on it.
So the kind of work that was done by the 15 womenscientists, with the support of the MIT administration, made avery important contribution to this whole debate, because theywere able, with their scientific method, to get below the surfaceand really figure out what it is that was going on.
And I really want to commend MIT for doing that. And Ihope it serves as a model not only for the rest of highereducation, but for employers in all kinds of institutions aroundthe country.
THE PRESIDENT: You know, the question that I wanted toask, because this MIT thing is so unusual, is, do you believethat they knew it was going on before? And if they didn't knowit was going on before, but all the women you went to hadimmediately related in the same way you did and signed up, howdid it happen? Because I think this is something that data maynot tell you. But I think this is what is really important,because there may be a lot of organizations out there where thissort of just creeps in, but the people now running theseorganizations don't know it.
And what I'm hoping is that -- it's not like -- it maynot be as overt as it was when Carolyn was in the work force, sohow do you think this happened? It's very impressive that thePresident said, okay, let's go do the right thing. But thatraises the question of how did it happen in the first place?
PROFESSOR HOPKINS: Great question. And if everybodycould understand what you just said, you would advance the causeof women a decade. And, in fact, I mean Ithink this is the last frontier of the civil rights/affirmativeaction process. We all thought that was going to take us to thetop. And it didn't. It got us in the door, and took us to acertain point, but at the top, where the power really resides inthese organizations, women haven't broken into that. And it'strue in the universities, and it's true in the law firms, Ibelieve, and it's true in many areas of life that we've heardfrom the people responding to us, which was overwhelming.
So I think, absolutely, it wasn't conscious, and Ithink part of it -- even the women themselves weren't aware ofit. So, in our case, you know, you have one woman in yourdepartment, how can you judge what happens from a single case?Everything looks like her specific problem. It was when you had15 who had lived through it, and the Dean of Science, who is DeanBirgeneau, who looked over the six departments and looked atthese 15 -- he could see the pattern. When he talked to theindividual department head, they couldn't see the pattern,because they were just dealing with an individual, because thenumbers were so small.
But it's a really subtle thing, and it's a sort ofunconscious gender bias that is small in each instance, but itaccumulates to real pay. So even though it was very subtle, itadded up to 20 percent pay.
THE PRESIDENT: Let me ask a specific question. Do youthink -- if there was no deliberate policy to hire all thesepeople at a lower salary, and then not to raise them at somepoint to a comparable salary -- and there was never a systematicpolicy, do you believe -- here's what I'm trying to get at -- isthere a still, sort of in the minds of at least the men who aremaking these hiring or pay decisions, this notion that there's amarketplace out there, and it's a big deal for a woman to be atenured professor at MIT? And, therefore, this was amarket-based decision, this is what I can get this talent for,and this is what I'm going to pay? Is that what you thinkhappened? And if not, what is it that you think happened?
PROFESSOR HOPKINS: I think that when that man goesinto that room and determines those salaries, that he has adifferent view of it than if you put a woman in the room anddetermine the salaries. You have to have women share the powerand determine the salaries with the men. (Applause.)
MRS. CLINTON: I want to move from MIT and Howard, andthe world of higher education, to the world in which most womenare working, and that is in jobs that are not often as well-paidor well-respected, and are not given the kind of support that thewomen who hold them deserve.
And so I wanted to ask Mrs. Gantt, you said in youropening remarks that you could see or you now know thatthroughout your working life men with the same or lesserqualifications, doing the same or a lesser job were given moresalary and benefits than you were. Could you explain that to usand how you came to be aware of that?
MS. GANTT: Well, I had been on the particular job, thefirst one that I'm thinking about, I had been on that job for acouple years. I worked in the community so I knew a few of thepeople that were in power, the boards, what have you. And acouple of them showed me data, like they were, see what we do,this is what we do when we go to meetings. And, of course, I'mthe nosey kind, so I read everything. (Laughter.)
So I read it and in those days they used to put yourname down and your salary -- not the position, your name. Soimmediately once I looked at that -- and it was a smallorganization -- I knew, hey, he and I started together, I knowhis background and everything, and how come he -- huh? I'm doingthe same thing, you know. (Laughter.) You know, you go throughit. And that's how I really discovered the truth.
But then, like they say, when you get it, you don'treally know what to do with it at first. You think about it andyou sort of internalize it, and what am I doing wrong, maybe Ineed to go back to school, maybe I need to do this.
But eventually -- it took me about -- I was raisingCain, believe me. I was talking about it all the time. But Ijust got to the point where I actually insisted on going to thefull board, since management wasn't doing anything, and saying,hey, I've been here, I did what you asked me to do, I did somethings you didn't ask me to do, but they turned out beneficial tothis organization -- and I wanted to know why I hadn't had araise, promotion or anything and, yet, I see people come in --and I don't like to knock anybody, but I know some of them arenot doing what I'm doing and they're getting more money. Why?
And I got the promotion. But they you get to realizethese people I'm talking about were five years ahead of me. Plusthat, I became a pariah. And then when I went to anotherorganization later on, in the District government, it happened,too. And it's very subtle in the District government. Youreally have to look at it hard. (Laughter.) And they try tomake you think. You know, like, we have all these people hereand all these women and they're not -- why are you. You know,like I'm something wrong? There's nothing wrong with me. I canunderstand. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Let me just this remarkable woman'scase as an illustration of a point I made in my remarks, thatthis is something that imposes great economic cost on the societyas a whole.
You have seven children, right?
MS. GANTT: I still have seven, but they're grown.(Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: And you're still working part-time?And how old are you?
MS. GANT: Do you really want me -- (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Let me ask you this. Let me ask youanother question. You are -- I know I shouldn't have asked.(Laughter.) The reason I ask you is because you look so muchyounger than you are. (Laughter.) But let me ask -- the point Iwanted to make is, she has been for sometime eligible for SocialSecurity. Here's the point I want to make about the issue. Youknow we're having this big Social Security debate here now, andwe're in an argument in the Congress about how to save SocialSecurity. Why? Because the number of people over 65 are goingto double between now and the year 2030. And the trust fund runsout of money in 35 years.
And for it to be stable, it needs to last for 75 years,but in addition to that, we need to lift the earnings limit forpeople who work when they're over 65, I think, so they can stilldraw their Social Security, number one. And number two, we needto have a remedial program to deal with the fact that the povertyrate among single elderly women is twice, almost twice thegeneral poverty rate among seniors in this country.
Why? A lot of it is because of stories like this. Soyou've either got people like this remarkable lady who is healthyenough and, as you can see, more than quite alert, and on top ofthings, an energetic to continue to work on and on, or you havepeople who can't do that, and they are twice as likely to beliving in poverty even when they draw Social Security.
This is another of the consequences of this. And sothe rest of you are going to have to pay to fix this unless youjust want to let it go on, and I don't think since we have somemoney to fix it now, I presume none of us want to let it go on,and we'd like to fix it.
But we should understand that none of this -- this kindof discrimination is not free to the rest of us as well. Justbecause you haven't felt it directly doesn't mean that you're notweakened and lessened because of the quality of life, thestrength of your society, the fabric of it is not eroded by this.And that's the point I wanted -- I didn't want to embarrass herabout her age, but I think it's important that you understandthat this is a cost imposed on the whole society. And one of thebig efforts we're going to make this year in this saving SocialSecurity is to do something about this dramatic difference in thepoverty rate. And it would be much, much lower if no one hadever had the experiences you just heard described.
SECRETARY HERMAN: Mr. President, if I could just addto that, as you talk about the pension gap, when you talk about75 cents for every dollar, but the reality is when we look at thepension dynamics, you're talking about half of that. I mean, ifyou're lucky enough as a woman to have a pension -- by the way,only 40 percent of women have pension coverage -- you're onlygetting half of what a man gets if you're lucky enough to evenget a pension. And so it's a very important issue, as youpointed out.
MRS. CLINTON: I'd like now to move to Mrs. Higgins,who has been a nurse for 23 years and I know from the work thatI've done and my own experience with nursing that the nurses areoften the ones on the front lines who determine the outcome ofpatient care. And we've seen a lot of cutbacks and downsizingwhen it comes to nurses, we've seen a lot of trained nurses beingreplaced by much less trained personnel. So there's been a bigturmoil going on in the nursing world, and you add to that thedifficulties that confront many nurses in terms of the pay andthe respect that they deserve for the job they do for the rest ofus.
It's a very complicated situation, and I'd appreciateit, Mrs. Higgins, if you could share your experience andobservations about that.
MS. HIGGINS: One of the things that just struck me,listening to Professor Hopkins, I knew when I came here todaythat my issues were not my issues, they were bigger issues. Butthe similarities in our stories are really remarkable, reallystriking.
And I've talked a lot about this over the last coupledays, thinking about this discussion today. I went into nursingwith a lot of idealism, and it certainly wasn't to get rich. Inever expected it. And it was only after years of kind oflooking at subtle things, and realizing over time that -- here Iam with two bachelor's degrees, and quite a bit of training,on-the-job training, and ongoing education, and really much ofwhat we do on a daily basis. I mean, the nurses in my hospitalare on Lifelight. They're in the emergency room. They're inintensive care. They're in labor and delivery.
I happen to be in rehab, we're at the other end of thespectrum, but those issues, with increased acuity levels inhospitals tend to involve more complex medical issues than theydid. And of course, in spinal cord injury, we're dealing with avery devastating, life-changing event that affects not just oneperson, but the whole family and, in many cases, the workplace,and we're dealing with a disabled individual who then has to goon with their life.
And I think we as nurses are very much on the frontline, not only dealing with acute issues, but with the long-termeducation issues and support issues that families need. And Ijust have, as I've gotten older and raised my own children andlooked at their futures and my husband and I think aboutretirement -- gee, I don't have that much socked away.
I've begun to realize, why shouldn't I be compensatedfor what I do at the same rate that men are for similar jobs withsimilar backgrounds and similar responsibility? It's kind of ascary thing to do at first. It went against everything that Iwas trained as a nurse to believe -- we did this out ofdedication. Well, dedication is great, but, you know, the bottomline is I've got a mortgage and I've got a family and I've got adaughter who has now chosen to go to nursing school. And I wouldlove to see something better for her. She's a heck of a kid.She'll be a wonderful nurse. But I'd like her to be recognizedfor what she does. (Applause.)
SECRETARY HERMAN: One of the other questions that Iwanted to ask, Mr. President, you raised earlier what's going ontoday in terms of the mind-set inside many of our institutionsAnd one of the things that we know is the oftentimes we havepolicies in place today -- that's the good news, we didn't havethat 20 years ago.
But what we're finding is that the practices insidethese institutions don't necessarily support the policies andprocedures. And so a lot of people have blinders on because theyknow now they have policies and procedures there that didn'texist before. So they think it's all working. But we know fromthe work that we're doing that the procedures aren't really beingfollowed. And so it's the practices. And that's why theleadership from MIT and other institutions, to get in there andto do these self-audits to see how they line up is very, veryimportant.
But maybe one final question that would be helpful, oneof the things that we're proposing in the legislative effort isalso tightening up on that it's okay to share salary informationand not to have fear of reprisals from employers because of that.To what extent was this an issue for you, Sanya, for others whohave talked about just how you got the data. The First Ladyasked the question about how all of this got started -- but howmuch is the fear of actually sharing of the data and getting theinformation, how much does that still play into it? And whatwe're proposing legislatively, do you think that's going to makea big difference?
MS. TYLER: I do know that in my case the informationwas never really revealed until we went to court. I knew thatthe kind of individual that came in had to have an attractivesalary because he came from the NBA. And I didn't really look atthe comparison between he and I as being plateaued to college andprofessional until I was told that I had not played in the NBA.(Laughter.) And I said, well, is this the Wonder Woman syndrome,because if I did I would have had to have been the only one.(Laughter.) And if I had to be the only, then what are wetalking about.
I found that fair-minded people make fair-mindeddecisions, but the one thing no institution is really kept sacredfrom is the mind-set of people who work there. If they bringthose limited thoughts -- the limited scope, the lack of vision,the discriminatory, the biases -- they will bring them in andthey will taint the most sacred of institutions.
And what I was doing with them -- you have tounderstand, I'm an alumnus of my school. You cut me, I willbleed blue and white. (Laughter.) The First Lady will bleedblue and white now, too. (Laughter.) That's right.
But I wasn't going to let them -- the individualsinvolved -- be my institution. I knew I was dealing with peopleissues. I knew once the umbilical cord was cut, that we werelooking at real issues, employment issues. I didn't have to playin the NBA. I was a college coach. His NBA experience was notgoing to garnish him anything at the collegiate level.
I found that many of these people who came fromprofessional ranks needed to be reoriented, because you can'twaive college players. You can't cut them like that. You know,you have to retrench their thinking about education. We'rebuilding, at Howard, leaders for America and the globalcommunity. I took that sacredly.
So I'm not building NBA players, and neither are ourmen. What we're building is people who can go out and make adifference, whatever they do. And I felt that because I had beensuccessful -- and I don't have the average program. Women'sbasketball at my institution is the most successful program atthat institution, and has been from day one. (Applause.)
All I wanted -- for the first time, I used the word, Ihadn't used it since I was a child -- and it was fair. You know,when you're playing tag, you can't cheat when you're little,because it's not fair. What was happening wasn't fair, and Icouldn't find an adjective, a descriptive phrase, that could sayit any better. What you're doing is not fair. And once fair wasnot going to be addressed and I wasn't going to get into amud-slinging, I don't think going to the media and raining allover the place that you are is the answer, I felt that everybodyhas a respect for an institution. And I took them to theinstitution I thought they respected most, and that was thecourt. (Laughter and applause.)
But I can clearly tell you this in defense of Howard,because Howard is just a microcosm of what's happening in thereal world. There were so many coaches, Mr. President, thatbenefitted from this lawsuit. There were many who kept theirjobs, there were many who were allowed to practice at Howard thatweren't extreme, like early in the morning or late at night.There were student athletes whose ratio with their coach wasreduced from 15 to 1 to three to five to one. There were coacheswho now did not have to rely on handshake or how their boss feltthat morning as to whether they can stay employed; they now havecontracts and have benefits in their contracts.
They now have incentives in their contracts. For thefirst time, athletics at major institutions across the nation wasan employment practice. We no longer had to go with thepractices of people, but the employment practices ofinstitutions. And if that lawsuit generated anything, itgenerated more than concern, more than awareness, it generatedreal dollars. (Applause.)
SECRETARY HERMAN: Well, I think anything on the noteof real dollars is a good way to end what's been a verystimulating panel discussion. I said at the beginning it's aboutpaychecks and reality checks, and I think, Mr. President, we'vehad very important reality checks here today in the presence ofthese distinguished women and their stories. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Let me say onbehalf of all of us, we're delighted that you're here. Weespecially thank Senator Harkin and Congresswoman Eleanor HolmesNorton for their leadership, and we thank our panelists. Theywere all terrific. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
What's New - April 1999
The Washington Summit
Union of American Hebrew Congregations Dinner
Remarks by President Clinton and Secretary General Solana
Humanitarian Relief Organizations
Remarks on Kosovo
Remarks Before Departing for NATO Summit
Teacher of the Year Ceremony
Statement on Efforts to Respond to Crisis in Kosovo
Education Flexibility Act Signing
Remarks at NATO Commemorative Ceremony
Patients' Bill of Rights Event
Remarks on Strategy Session
Presentation of the Medal of Freedom
Annual White House Easter Egg Roll
Remarks to Military Personnel at Barksdale AFB
Remarks at Hate Crimes Announcement
Remarks on the Economy
Statement on Kosovo
Remarks in Foreign Policy Speech
Statement on School Shootings
Lessons Learned from a Violent Century
Roundtable Discussion on Equal Pay
Remarks at Volunteer Event
Announces USA Accounts
Press Conference with Zhu Rongji
Call to Aviano Troops
American Society of Newspaper Editors
President Clinton Welcomes Premier Zhu Rongji
Statement on Unemployment and Kosovo
Statement Upon Departure from the White House
National Medal of Science and Technology Awards Ceremony
T.C. Williams High School Discussion
President and First Lady | Vice President and Mrs. Gore
Record of Progress | The Briefing Room
Gateway to Government | Contacting the White House | White House for Kids
White House History | White House Tours | Help
T H E W H I T E H O U S E