On May 28th,
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that the Paycheck Fairness
Act would be put to vote the following week.
Sponsor Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) saw an immediate spike in social media,
finding herself in the company of 3,205 brand new fans the very next day. Co-sponsor Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) also saw
a small but significant increase in subscribers. These numbers appear to indicate support for
the bill among Facebook and Twitter users.
Fairness Act was intended to close the wage gap between men and women in the
workforce. Statistics show that women
earn $0.77 on the dollar compared to their male counterparts, with African
American and Latina women facing even greater disparities.
If passed, the bill
would have required employers to provide an explanation for any differences in
salary among male and female workers to ensure that gender did not influence
pay. It also would have prevented
retaliation against employees who discuss their salaries with co-workers and
would have authorized women who brought successful lawsuits against their
employers to receive the same amount of money available under racial and ethnic
While support for
the Paycheck Fairness Act was strong on social networks where users flocked to
Senator Mikulski by the thousands, social media opinions were discarded by
Republican Senators who defeated the bill in a filibuster on Tuesday. Every Republican present cast a negative
vote, leaving it eight votes shy of the 60 needed to pass.
Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Kay Bailey Hutchinson
(R-TX), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) all voted against the
indicate that the bill held little interest for GOP women. Unlike sponsoring Senators Mikulski and
Gillibrand, who experienced a boost in support before and after the vote, the
five Republican women who refused to support the act saw little in the way of
fluctuation on their social media accounts as a result. Only Senator Hutchinson experienced a rare
drop in Facebook fans this week; her cohorts' accounts remained steady.
Reactions from the
overall Twittersphere were largely negative, with a consistent stream of Tweets
that were especially critical of the female senators who cast votes against the
Paycheck Fairness Act.
The day began with
each senator receiving tweets from various equal pay organizations asking them
to support the bill. After the
filibuster, some popular mentions included the following, which were retweeted
by multiple users.
sentiment was one of shock and betrayal from female constituents and women
across the nation. At the same time,
Senator Mikulski's immediate call for a “New American Revolution” led by women
for equality received an enthusiastic reception on Twitter, where her account
was mentioned and re-tweeted in abundance.
The Paycheck Fairness
Act was defeated in such a way as to allow its reintroduction at a later date,
and sponsoring Senators Mikulski and Gillibrand indicate that they will
continue the fight. They can expect
Facebook and Twitter to cast ballots in their favor next time, but unless
pressure mounts on Republican women to vote positively, another loss seems