The US Department of Labor, in partnership with the National Equal Pay Task Force, announced that it will launch a new Equal Pay App Challenge, to encourage web developers to create a software application to educate users about the pay gap and work to eliminate it. The winners of the challenge will be announced on Equal Pay Day in April.

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis stated, “Women make up nearly half of the U.S. labor force and play a vital role in the nation’s economy. While progress has been made in recent decades, the pay gap continues to disadvantage many women, with consequences not only for them, but for their families and the economy as a whole.”

White House Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra added, “Today’s employers and employees are more resourceful and technologically savvy than ever before, but too many remain unaware of how the pay gap affects them. By encouraging developers to help us solve this problem, we’re leveraging the unique ability of the federal government to provide mountains of valuable data as well as the innovation power of the private sector.”

In the United States, women make on the average 77 cents to a man’s dollar, despite women’s greater likelihood of attending college and earning a degree. Since women comprise over half of the workforce and are the primary or co-breadwinners in over 66 percent of families, the wage gap harms not only women, but also families that suffer from lost wages, decreased pensions, and reduced Social Security benefits.

Department of Labor 1/31/12; MMD Newswire 1/31/12; Feminist Daily Newswire 4/12/11