WH: Women Should Be 'Able to Actually Find Out What Their Male Colleagues Earn'

By Susan Jones | March 13, 2014 | 9:14 AM EDT

President Obama signs the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Jan. 29, 2009. (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - The first bill President Obama signed into law was the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, but five years later, the White House is still talking about the gender wage-gap.

At a White House briefing on Wednesday, Betsey Stevenson, one of President Obama's economic advisers, said female employees need to know how much their male colleagues earn, so they can tell if they're being paid equally.

"Well, you know, one of the challenges is the fact that employers can enforce pay-nondisclosure agreements, and as a result, even though the Lilly Ledbetter Act passed, you know, one of her problems was that she didn't know how much her colleagues made. She didn't know that her male colleagues were earning so much more than her," Stevenson said.

"And what we need to make sure is that women do seem to have -- and are able to actually find out -- what their male colleagues earn, and are able to learn about situations of pay discrimination so that when you're someone like Lilly Ledbetter, who are working side by side with men, doing the exact same work, you know, when you're -- if you're being paid equally or not."

Stevenson went on to the next question, and no one, including the many male reporters in the room, followed up.

Later on Wednesday, in a meeting with female members of Congress, President Obama also raised the pay-gap issue, saying that "women are still making 77 cents on the dollar" compared with men, even when they enter high-paying professions.

The president said his June 23 Working Families Summit will "give us an opportunity to build on the work that we're doing here in the White House around issues like minimum wage, around issues like family leave, around issues like equal pay."