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Obama, Mom Bloggers to Talk Lag in US Family Policies

Photograph by Getty Images

It's no secret that every day most American women go to work, they're being robbed—robbed of pay, of benefits, of advancement on par with their male peers. What is a secret, apparently, is how to get this paradigm to change, since the wage gap is set to close in 124 years, if things keep going at the current rate.

Since his State of the Union address in January, President Obama has bumped up family and working women policies on the list of issues he's bringing attention to. Today, he'll take part in a town hall meeting with 50 mom bloggers and dozens of other women to talk about everything from equal pay to the federal child care credit.

The surprise meeting, coinciding with Tax Day 2015, was organized by SheKnows Media (and its Blogher subsidiary) and aims to reach specific audiences (read: moms) through social media.

Lisa Stone, SheKnows chief community officer and founder of BlogHer, will moderate the town hall. In addition to asking Obama her own questions, she will also call on attendees to ask theirs. She told National Public Radio that none of the questions have been scripted or even vetted by Obama staff.

The town hall will be streamed live from the BlogHer/SheKnows site. In encouraging women, mothers, policy makers and others to watch, she stokes the fire with some still-difficult-to-believe statistics about women, women of color, their pay and its impact on the economy.

"American women are being systematically robbed. We are being underpaid for the same work to the tune of $490 billion a year, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families.

  • On average, women working full-time are paid 78 cents for every 1 dollar a man makes (up from 77 cents in 2012).
  • Women of color (#WOC) are paid less than 78 cents for every dollar a white man makes: Latinas make 54 cents, American Indian and Alaska Natives make 59 cents, African American women make 64 cents and Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders make 65 cents.
  • The pay gap is "real and pervasive," and it affects ALL women—young, old, with college degrees and without, with children and without, and in almost every industry.
  • At the current rate of change, this wage gap won't close for another 124 years."

Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to the president and chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, writes in a post on BlogHer that any time women—and men—talk about maternity leave or pay differences or family-friendly workplaces, they're have a policy discussion. And it's a discussion that needs more voices, all voices. In her post called "10 Reasons You Can't Afford to Stay Out of the Working Families Policy Discussion," Jarrett writes:

"But, among second-earners, women are 17 percentage points more likely to eventually leave the workforce compared to men. In fact, the U.S. is falling behind its peers in keeping women in the workforce. In 1990, the United States ranked 7th out of 24 current developed countries reporting prime-age female labor force participation, about 8 percentage points higher than the average of that sample. By 2013 the United States had fallen to 19th out of those same 24 countries. A recent study found that the relative expansion of family leave and part-time work programs in other developed countries versus the United States explains nearly one-third of the United States' relative decline."

Ask your questions on Twitter, using #ObamaTownHall.

Watch the town hall here:

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