President Biden gushed over the U.S. Women’s National Team and its court battle for equal pay on Wednesday at an event with soccer stars Margaret Purce and Megan Rapinoe to mark Equal Pay Day.
“I’m an unadulterated fan — not a joke,” Mr. Biden said at an event where he signed a proclamation on Equal Pay Day. “This soccer team, America’s team, has done more to lift up people’s sense of who they can be - particularly young girls and women - [than] about anything that’s been done.”
“I thank you for the example you’ve set and for your willingness to say look, we’re not going to take it anymore,” he said.
Mr. Biden also called on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would require employers to clearly explain pay disparities between men and women and make it easier for women to file grievances.
The president said more needs to be done to ensure women are paid equally for equal work.
He said after the event concluded he would have ordered equal pay for the women’s soccer team “a long time ago” if he could.
First Lady Jill Biden said she found out early on in her teaching career that she was being paid 75% of what a man hired around the same time was earning.
“How do we value women when they have to work three months and 24 days longer to make the same amount as their male colleagues?” Mrs. Biden said.
Ms. Rapinoe said she still feels shortchanged despite all the team’s success.
“I’ve been devalued, I’ve been disrespected, and dismissed because I am a woman,” she said. “Despite all the wins, I’m still paid less than men who do the same job that I do.”
Other members of the team beamed in virtually to participate in the event.
The USWNT reached a settlement agreement in December after the team sued the U.S. Soccer Federation in 2019 on gender discrimination grounds, saying members of the women’s team were paid less than members of the men’s team for doing substantially similar work.
The settlement covered grievances tied to unequal working conditions; the team is continuing its broader fight on equal pay grounds after an unfavorable ruling in May 2020 from a federal judge.
U.S. District Judge Gary Klausner concluded that U.S. Soccer presented evidence to substantiate its claim that the women’s team was paid more cumulatively and on a per-game basis than their male counterparts during the years in question.
In the settlement, the U.S. Soccer Federation denied it discriminated against the team based on gender, either in pay or in working conditions.