In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Equal Pay Act, last week President Barack Obama recognized innovators who used open government data to build tools that address the wage gap.
Since the signing of the act, the wage gap has shrunk significantly, but has yet to be eliminated. To address the remaining gap, the Equal Pay Task Force and the Labor Department challenged innovators to develop applications and tools to educate the public about the income gap and promote equal pay using publicly available, open government data and other online resources.
Responding to the challenge, Laquitta Martell-DeMerchant and Rachel Koch developed the app Aequitas and the website Close The Wage Gap. The two products give anyone with a smartphone, tablet or computer the ability to find data on salary topics like pay ranges, skill-level requirements for specific jobs and ways to negotiate salary. Obama recognized the two women for their creative apps at the White House’s June 16 Equal Pay Event.
It would have been impossible to design these apps without freely available federal open government data on wages. Last month’s open data executive order, which made open and machine-readable data the default for government information, exemplifies the administration’s push to spur innovation by liberating federal data.
To put the wage gap in perspective, in 2011, an average 25-year-old woman working full time, year-round, earned $5,000 less than an average 25-year-old man. If the wage gap remained each year afterward, the same women at 35 would have earned $33,600 less than her 35-year-old male counterpart. By 65, the income gap would reach $389,300.
These apps and other, similar ones are important because they give women across the country the information they need to demand equality in the workplace.