US President Joe Biden will host members of the US Women's national soccer team at the White House on Wednesday as part of his push to secure better pay for American women, who earn 82 cents on average for every dollar earned by men.
Wednesday is Equal Pay Day, which marks how much longer into a new year US women on average must work to earn what the average man earned the previous year.
The pay gap is far greater when calculated for Black women, who earn 63 cents on the dollar, and Latina women, who earn just 55 cents.
The soccer squad led by Megan Rapinoe, which won the Women's World Cup for a second consecutive time in 2019, has sued US Soccer, alleging gender discrimination. Fans backed them up, shouting "equal pay" during the World Cup final match.
The coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout has exacerbated disparities, triggering what Vice President Kamala Harris has called a "national emergency" for women.
Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package includes provisions aimed at getting the 2 million women who left the labor force during the Covid-19 pandemic back to work. His next legislative push, valued at some $3 trillion, will also expand child care infrastructure and create jobs, administration officials say.
Rapinoe and teammate Margaret Purce will join Biden at the White House. Rapinoe is also due to testify to a US House Committee hearing on the issue.
"They are heroines because they champion this issue for all women," said Jennifer Klein, co-chair of the newly established White House Gender Policy Council. "This is really true in literally every country in the world – women are paid less."
The team reached a settlement in December with US Soccer on certain working conditions, including team travel and accommodations, but is still fighting in the courts to achieve equal pay to the men's soccer team.