Layli Maparyan Attends White House Event Recognizing the 50th Anniversary of the Equal Pay Act

June 11, 2013

Fifty years ago, President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law. Yesterday, President Obama spoke to guests at a special White House event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Equal Pay Act and called attention to the ongoing gender pay disparity. Layli Maparyan, Katherine Stone Kaufmann '67 Executive Director of the Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) at Wellesley College, was among the invited guests.

The White House  reports that “on average, full-time working women earn just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. This significant gap is more than a statistic—it has real life consequences. When women, who make up nearly half the workforce, bring home less money each day, it means they have less for the everyday needs of their families, and over a lifetime of work, far less savings for retirement.”

Maparyan said, “It was an honor to attend the White House event and I return to the Centers inspired more deeply than ever to deliver programs that make change for women and girls, their families and communities. It’s our goal at the Wellesley Centers for Women to undertake research and action projects that help to understand, inform, and shape a just and equitable world. Advancing women’s economic and social status goes hand-in-hand with achieving educational equity and promoting human rights and well-being for all people. ”

"When you think about it, we’re not just celebrating a law," President Obama said in his remarks. "We’re honoring the heroes who made that law possible—the fierce determination of Americans who saw a wrong and worked to right it."

For more than 35 years, legislators, educators, counselors, and program developers have relied on work by WCW scholars to craft laws, initiate policy changes, and implement effective practices. In 2009, WCW partnered with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research for a dynamic conference, Achieving Equity for Women: Policy Alternatives for the New Administration, held in Washington, D.C. The program brought together key policymakers and leading researchers to address critical issues facing American women: retirement, Social Security, and aging; women in the economic recovery; early care and education; and health care quality, cost, and access. Keynote speakers included Tina Tchen, then executive director of the White House Council on Women and Girls, and Hilda Solis, secretary of labor, U.S. Department of Labor.

President Obama in his second inaugural address said, "Our journey to equality is not complete until our wives, our mothers, our daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts." The first bill President Obama signed into law, in January 2009, was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act.

Maparyan (R) is pictured here outside the East Room of the White House with Victoria Budson '93, executive director of the Women and Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.