WOMEN
04/12/2016 12:28 pm ET Updated Apr 12, 2016

Hillary Clinton: ‘There’s No Discount For Being A Woman, So Why Should We Be Paid Less?'

"We have to be willing to address implicit bias," the presidential candidate said.
Getty/Huffington Post

Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton outlined her plan for closing the pay gap between men and women at a roundtable in midtown Manhattan on Tuesday. 

The former secretary of state detailed the familiar and depressing statistics on pay inequality: The average American woman working full time makes just 79 percent of what the average man earns, and the disparity is even greater for Latinas and African-American women. 

"Last time I checked, there’s no discount for being a woman," Clinton said at the gathering, which was sponsored by the salary site Glassdoor. "Groceries don't cost us less, rent doesn’t cost us less, so why should we be paid less?"

The pay issue was on the agenda because April 12 is Equal Pay Day -- the day U.S. women's earnings finally catch up with what U.S. men already earned at the end of 2015.

Clinton's rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), tweeted a call for pay equality on Tuesday.  

The Republican candidates weren't talking as much about pay equality, an issue that exposes a pretty stark partisan divide.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill floating around Congress that would bolster legal protections for those seeking fair pay.

GOP front-runner Donald Trump has said women should make the same as men if they do "as good a job." He's made statements supporting equal pay, but hasn't offered much in the way of substantial policy recommendations.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) has said that women make less than men because they take time off from their careers for mothering and thus gain less professional experience. A 2014 investigation found that the governor paid women working in his office nearly $10 an hour less than men.

While some of the wage gap can be attributed to experience, it does not explain the entire pay differential, research has shown. Other factors include bias against women and different career choices.

"We have to be willing to address implicit bias," Clinton said on Tuesday. She also emphasized the need to pass the Fairness Act and urged private companies to examine their pay practices to ensure they're fair. She held up software company Salesforce as a positive example for equalizing pay between its male and female employees last year.

Clinton also said that we should encourage more salary transparency and that businesses should not punish employees who learn what their coworkers make. "You should be protected from retaliation," she said. 

Equal pay is one of the issues that voters most often ask her about, Clinton said.

She recounted how a young girl in Las Vegas asked her, "'If you're elected the girl president, will you be paid the same as the boy president?'"  

"I said, 'I think so,'" Clinton recalled.

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