SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- On the day known around the country as Equal Pay Day, a member of the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday introduced legislation that would make San Francisco only the second city in the U.S. to close the wage gap by imposing an equal pay policy for men and women.
Philadelphia is the only other U.S. city that has enacted similar legislation. California women only make 86 cents for every dollar paid to men, according to a recent analysis by the National Partnership for Women and Families.
And census data reveals women nationwide make just .79 cents for each dollar earned by men. In San Francisco, the average is higher but still not equal at 84 cents.
"We still have a massive pay gap," said San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell, who introduced the "pay parity" ordinance to the board.
"As a father of a young girl . . . I want every single opportunity for her to make as much if not more than men," Farrell said.
The new policy would prohibit employers from asking job applicants about their past salaries in an effort to break the cycle, Farrell said.
"Did you know that today is Equal Payday?" asked Michele Pred, a performance artist for social issues who took to Market Street for an hour to spread the word about the gender pay gap.
"There's people who deny the existence of wage gaps for different reasons and I think it's really important to have this conversation," Pred said as she passed out dollar bills cut to reflect the pay percentages paid to women based on their race.
According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, Latino women make the least amount of money by race and ethnicity, earning 54 cents to a dollar paid to men.
And Native American women make 59 cents; while black women are paid 63 cents; and white women get 75 cents; and Asian women earn the highest at 84 cents versus a dollar paid to their male counterparts.
"The more women that can get into boardrooms and in making the decision process, I think that's what's going to be required for things to change," said Jake Foley. "Everyone wants to see people treated the same way and I think it's important to draw attention to this cause."
Seena Sundaran of San Francisco said she thinks the fact that women often take maternity leave can unfairly hurt them in the workplace, leaving them to play catch up when they return.
"The only thing that could be bringing them down a little bit in their career could be like dedication and devotion towards the family and kids," Sundaran said.
If the wage gap were to close, the average working woman in California would have enough money for three additional mortgage payments, nine-and-a-half months of childcare or a year's worth of groceries, according to the NPWF.
If approved, Farrell's measure would apply to both public and private employers.
"I'm sure there are going to be ups and downs with the enforcement over time but we are committed and our city departments are committed to making this law work," Farrell said.
The top three states with the lowest pay disparity between the sexes are New York, Delaware and Florida, where the gap ranges between 11 and 13 cents.
By KTVU reporter Tara Moriarty.