News and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by

2 proposed laws aim to close the gender pay gap in CA

Women stage a protest demanding equal pay for women at a 2012 rally in Miami.
Women stage a protest demanding equal pay for women at a 2012 rally in Miami.
J Pat Carter/AP

Listen to story

Download this story 9MB

Equal pay for equal work has been a stubbornly difficult problem for women, who still make less than men for doing the same job.

And a recent study found that women aren't likely to close the pay gap anytime soon -- it may not happen until the year 2043.

Well, a pair of female lawmakers in California are justifiably dissatisfied with that timeline. They're proposing a pair of new bills to encourage fair pay.

To help us understand the proposed legislation, we spoke with Ange-Marie Hancock Alfaro. She's an associate professor of political science and gender studies at USC. 

On the first bill, which would prevent employers from asking about a person's prior salary:

"One of the pieces of logic there is that once you ask a woman and a man candidate what they're making, because they may have been in a situation where they were being paid according to the gender gap in their current job, the new job would kind of continue that gap. So the woman candidate would say, 'I'm making X amount of dollars, I'm making 25 dollars an hour,' and the man candidate would come in and say 'I'm making 35 dollars an hour.' And the employer, interviewing both of them, would then offer the job to the female candidate and say '27 dollars an hour,' and then offer the job to the male candidate at 37 dollars an hour, so the gap that existed before then just persists at the same level. So that's one of the reasons why AB 28 wants to ban employers from asking for salary histories."

On the second bill, which would make large companies publicly post the median salary of male and female employees:

"This is actually one that is designed to repeat and duplicate one of those Obama administration policies that's now under threat. In 2016, the Obama administration said that all large companies have to report publicly their data about their hiring and their wages, so that analyses can be done to see if there's a gender gap - so rather than just assume that there is one, or pretend that there's not one, we need the data to actually see. And what's happening now at the federal level has actually inspired this effort in California to say 'We're going to make this California state law that large companies like Google and Tesla actually have to report their data out so we can see if there's a gender gap.'"

To listen to the full segment, click the blue play button above.