Posts Tagged ‘Behind the Pay Gap’

On October 24, AAUW will release a new report, Graduating to a Pay Gap. The following is the second installment of Gap and Gown, a new blog series inspired by the forthcoming research.

It is a tough pill to swallow: I have a degree from a four-year university, yet as a woman who works full time, I probably earn substantially less than my male counterparts. For women of color, the pay gap widens — both my gender and my race contribute to a lower probable salary. I cannot help but think of what the pay gap will mean for me and the amount of money that I will not accumulate over the course of my career.

I graduated in 2009, which was not an opportune time to finish an undergraduate program. Several months prior to commencement, I knew I had to avoid the many job rejections that come with the rising national unemployment rate. Instead of jumping into the fray of job seekers, I decided to join a national service program, AmeriCorps. That summer, I moved to Philadelphia to become a tutor, mentor, and community service volunteer. After successfully completing more than 1,700 hours of community service, I moved back home to Alexandria, Virginia, in summer 2010.

It was then that I began my job search, with much apprehension — I knew I would be competing with a new graduating class. I leveraged my networking skills and landed a job as an administrative assistant with a starting salary that was lower than I had hoped for. I felt that I did not know how to negotiate my salary, and although I did some research, I was not confident enough to ask for more.

Even as I signed my offer letter, I knew that my starting salary was contributing to the sad statistic that women, on average, make only 80 percent of what their male counterparts make one year out of college.

Since that experience, I’ve learned my value. Now that I am trying to start my own business, I am learning that it is important, especially as a woman, to not sell myself short. I find myself urging my female friends to aim high, to expect more from themselves and their employers, and to negotiate their salaries to match their value.

The gender wage gap issue isn’t only about earning another 20 cents on the dollar or having a salary that is equitable to that of a man. The issue is my value. As a woman at the start of her career, I find it upsetting that I might not be paid fairly for doing similar work with the same qualifications.

I value myself and the women of my generation, and I hope that we continue to fight for equal pay.

This post was written by former AAUW Media Relations Intern Ijeoma Nwatu. She is a blogger and traveler who writes about her professional journey, business, and female entrepreneurship.


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Tomorrow, we’ll learn from the U.S. Census Bureau if there’s been any change in the gender pay gap. Currently, the gap stands at 23 cents, which means that the average woman makes 77 cents for every dollar earned by the average man. It’s important to point out that the numbers are worse for African American and Latina women.

At AAUW, we are addressing the problem from various angles, from our public policy work to our programming. AAUW has offered $tart $mart salary negotiation workshops with the WAGE Project since 2009. We are helping to close the pay gap by arming young women — and some men — with real-world information about salary negotiation. In fact, we are holding a training today at Colby College in Maine, and we have four more sessions scheduled for September in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, and Colorado. To date, we have been to 176 campuses and served more than 7,000 students.

“I didn’t know about the wage gap before I took this workshop, but now I’ll try my best to get paid what I deserve to be paid.”
— $tart $mart participant, Mount San Jacinto College

That’s my hope for women across the country. The wage gap adds up. In a lifetime, the lost earnings can amount to $1 million. We must do all we can to get a fair salary in the first place. Additionally, we must push to strengthen equal pay laws to encourage workplace fairness. As one writer from The Crimson, Harvard University’s student newspaper, so aptly said, “That Harvard diploma may not be quite enough.” The article was about the 2007 AAUW report Behind the Pay Gap, which showed that just one year out of college, women working full time already earn 5 percent less than their male colleagues — even when they work in the same field with the same education and lifestyle factors. Ten years out of college, the gap grows to 12 percent. The wage gap is real, and as economist Heather Boushey points out, for too many women, it starts the minute they throw their graduation caps in the air.

Help combat the wage gap by requesting a $tart $mart workshop in your area.

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Despite recent stories about how women are poised to out-earn men in coming generations, the stark reality is that worldwide, women still make an average of 18 percent less than their male counterparts at work.

Messed up, right?

Despite a narrowing of the wage gap in the United States from the 1960s to the 1990s, no significant progress has been made in closing the global gender pay gap for over a decade. So perhaps my skepticism toward reports celebrating my lucrative future is warranted when, despite women’s remarkable gains in educational achievement, progress toward our equal compensation remains entirely stagnant.

Bleaker still are the adverse effects of childrearing and higher education on women’s wages. AAUW’s report Behind the Pay Gap confirms that among college-educated men and women within the same majors and occupations, a pay gap exists in the first year after graduation and continues to widen over the first 10 years in the workforce — even when controlling for factors known to affect earnings such as education and training, parenthood, and hours worked. The absurdity persists when it comes to having kids, as women with children earn less on average than their childless counterparts, while men with children tend to receive a “child premium,” meaning that they earn more on average than men without children.

Equal Pay Day this year falls on Tuesday, April 17, a date that symbolizes how far into 2012 women must work to earn what men were paid in 2011. But losing three months and 17 days of earnings doesn’t worsen outcomes for women only. The wage gap hurts families, who, as recent stories rightfully report, are increasingly likely to depend on women as their primary breadwinners.

Since our initial research on the issue back in 1913, AAUW has been fighting the good fight for equal pay. It’s clear that we’ve made remarkable gains. Yet as we prepare for Equal Pay Day 2012, generate additional research deciphering who is affected by wage inequality and why, and publish another blog post to debunk false notions about the end of the wage gap as we know it, it is strikingly clear how far we still need to go in our quest to earn equal pay for equal work.

This post was written by AAUW Public Policy Intern Julie Seger.

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This is the fourth post in a five-part series debunking the myths surrounding the Paycheck Fairness Act.

The persistence of the gender pay gap struck a foul chord with me around the time I entered high school. I was always brought up to believe that women could be anything and that their work would be valued. I still hold on to that ideal, but it has not fully come to fruition.

In my cozy, Midwestern high school, my female classmates seemed largely apathetic to these concerns. Discrimination was something we read about in American history class, albeit briefly. It was not something we expected to experience in the modern-day “real” world.

Apathy precludes reform; if a problem is not understood or acknowledged, it is hard to fix. That is why I’ve been encouraged by the new level of energy about fair pay that I see among my university friends. Different people have different priorities but, on the whole, my peers seem concerned with the cumulative effect the pay gap will have on our lifetime earnings.

$mart $tart Salary negotiation workshops.

AAUW explains the importance of good salary negotiation skills to college women in $mart $tart Salary negotiation workshops.

MYTH: The gender pay gap is a relic of the past.

FACT: The gender pay gap affects all women, right now.

AAUW’s 2007 report Behind the Pay Gap found that women already earn 5 percent less than men do just one year out of college, controlling for factors known to affect earnings such as education, training, parenthood, and hours worked. The gap widens to 12 percent just a decade out of college, even when men and women have the same major and occupation. The gap these college-educated women experience is even worse than the gap for women overall.

However, women suffer from the pay gap at all levels of education. Over the course of their lives, young women today stand to lose from $300,000 to $1 million over the course of a 40-year career, depending upon education, occupation, and location. This shortfall has serious ramifications for women’s retirement security, since women tend to live longer than men but have fewer resources.

The Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 3772) addresses the wage gap for young women in two crucial ways. Section five of the bill provides funding for salary-negotiation skills training, which would help young women learn about and assert their worth when considering salary and benefits packages.

Sections six, eight, and nine of the bill would empower the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to analyze its current data collection activities and make new recommendations for those efforts. The bill would also restore the Department of Labor’s ability to gather data from federal contractors, which would potentially uncover red flags and provide technical assistance to employers to help them implement best practices and end pay disparities. By increasing understanding and awareness of the problem, the bill would help lessen the effect of the pay gap on young women.

Learn more about the Paycheck Fairness Act and find out how to contact your senators.

This post was written by Public Policy Fellow Emily Pfefer.

part 1 |  part 2 |  part 3 |  This is part 4  |  part 5

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Originally posted by The Women’s Media Center, a non-profit organization founded by Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem, and Robin Morgan, dedicated to making women visible and powerful in the media.

Equal_150-2Today, as we do every year in April, AAUW and our allies mark Equal Pay Day. This day represents how far into the next year the average woman must work to earn what the average man took home the previous calendar year. In other words, every year women start out more than 100 days behind.

In this economy, we don’t have 100 hours to spare, let alone 100 days. Even with a very recent uptick in job creation, the U.S. economy has shed more than 7 million jobs since December 2007. The recovery of the American middle class begins and ends with good-paying jobs, but that cannot happen if women continue to earn less than they deserve — 77 cents on the dollar, on average, compared with men at last count, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. AAUW’s report Behind the Pay Gap controlled for factors known to affect earnings, such as education and training, parenthood, and hours worked, and found that college-educated women still earn less than men do — even when they have the same major and occupation as their male counterparts.

That’s why the Paycheck Fairness Act is needed now more than ever. There is no higher priority for the American public than the restoration of the economy, and working toward pay equity is a critical step in that direction. Policy makers need to ensure that women workers — all workers — don’t just survive the downturn but continue the march toward fair pay and workplace opportunity. Empowering women is one investment that always pays long-term dividends, not only for the women themselves but their families and the entire nation as well.

The Paycheck Fairness Act is a comprehensive bill that updates the Equal Pay Act of 1963 by taking meaningful steps to create stronger incentives for employers to follow the law, empower women to negotiate for equal pay, and strengthen federal outreach and enforcement efforts. Passing this legislation — approved by the House more than a year ago — is the next logical step following the 2009 enactment of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which restored the ability of working women to have their day in court to combat wage discrimination.

The fight to achieve pay equity is often couched in moral terms. That, of course, is how it should be — it is completely unethical for any nation, particularly one as advanced as the United States, to pay a woman less than a man simply because of her sex. As long as the pay gap is in place, civil rights will remain — in the words of the stalwart Senator Edward Kennedy — the unfinished business of America.

That said, AAUW believes it is equally important to discuss the economic imperative of this cause as well. For the past quarter of a century, American families have relied increasingly upon women’s wages to make ends meet. From 1980 to 2006, women’s income as a share of total family income rose from 26.7 percent to 35.6 percent. The Great Recession — during which the importance of a working woman’s wage has never been higher — has intensified this trend. For the first time in American history, women today represent half of the paid workforce, and two-thirds of women are either the primary or co-breadwinner for their families. In other words, pay equity is not just a moral issue; it is an economic imperative with enormous implications not just for women but also for working families, communities, and the nation’s recovery.

When the House passed the Paycheck Fairness Act, it was with an even greater bipartisan majority than the Ledbetter bill received. The Obama Administration has publicly announced its support for the bill as well. All that’s left is for the Senate to do its duty and send the bill to the president’s desk. More than one-third of the Senate is co-sponsoring the legislation, and a Senate committee held a successful hearing on the bill last month. AAUW has been leading the charge on this bill for more than a decade, and we’ve never been closer to seeing it become law. The stars have never been aligned this well — the time to pass this bill is now.

Every April, we’re reminded that women must work nearly 16 months to be on par with what men earn in 12 months. Economically and ethically, we can no longer allow this inequity to stand. AAUW will not rest until the Paycheck Fairness Act finally becomes law. When it does, we see a chance at a future where Equal Pay Day will represent a celebration rather than a shortcoming.

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Equity Issues Banner

February 27– March 10

AAUW Recognized by Bestselling Author at National Movie Event Sponsored by CARE

AAUW branches across the United States participated in Half the Sky LIVE, a one-night only movie event presented by CARE on March 4. Sheryl WuDunn, co-author of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide – the book which inspired the film, publicly recognized AAUW, saying: “We would like to especially thank CARE’s partner organizations, like the American Association of University Women, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and the Girl Scouts of the USA, which have rallied their members around the country to take part in this event. They are raising their voices on behalf of the mothers, daughters, grandmothers, and sisters around the world – those who may not have the platform to speak out.” CNN, the Huffington Post, and the St. Augustine Record, which highlighted AAUW branch participation, all covered the event.

Have you purchased your copy of Half the Sky yet? AAUW’s Barnes and Noble partnership provides discounts when you purchase books through the AAUW portal. Visit www.bn.com/aauw. Half the Sky is a New York Times bestseller and Tom Brokaw has said its stories “will pierce your heart and arouse your conscience.”

AAUW at the White House for International Women’s Day

AAUW Dialog (Tuesday, March 9)

President Obama told those gathered in the White House East Room that the story of America’s women, like that of the United States itself, has peaks and valleys, but that ultimately it has been one of progress against hardships that women continue to confront. The president pointed to some of what he called the “statistics of inequality” — women earning 77 percent of what men earn; one in four women becoming victims of domestic violence; women making up more than half of the U.S. population while occupying only 17 percent of the seats in Congress, and constituting less than three percent of Fortune 500 company chief executive officers. Read more on AAUW Dialog.

AAUW “Rocks the Red” for HIV/AIDS Awareness

AAUW Dialog (Wednesday, March 10)

Annually, the United States recognizes March 10 as National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD). This nationwide initiative aims to raise awareness about the increasing impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls; and to encourage them to make better lifestyle choices in the face of this epidemic. This year blogs, including AAUW Dialog, are participating in the Rock the Red PumpTM campaign by putting the logo on our blog in solidarity with advocates and women affected by or fighting the disease.

AAUW Analysis Figures Prominently in Forbes Woman Article

Forbes Woman (Tuesday, March 2)

AAUW research figures prominently in a Forbes Woman article on popular college majors. It said that while business has emerged as the No. 1 major for undergraduates, a business degree does not shield women from the gender wage gap. The article continued: “a woman one year out of college and working full time typically earns only 80 percent as much as her male counterparts. Why? According to AAUW’s 2007 ‘Behind the Pay Gap’ report, women with business degrees are twice as likely as men with similar degrees to enter administrative, clerical or support positions earlier in their career.”

AAUW Branch Sponsors Conference to Open Doors to Math and Science Careers

Redlands Daily (Monday, March 8 )

The AAUW Redlands (CA) branch received some great press for holding a conference designed to encourage girls to broaden their interests and consider careers they may never have thought about previously. The article began: “nearly 600 Redlands and Yucaipa students may be more inclined to pursue careers in math and science thanks to a conference held last week at the University of Redlands.”

AAUW Board Member Quoted in Story about Challenges Facing Rural High School Girls

KQCD-TV (Wednesday, March 3)

AAUW board member Connie Hildebrand was quoted in an article about junior and senior high school girls living in rural North Dakota. Research shows that those girls don’t have as strong a sense of opportunity as girls in urban areas. In response, Hildebrand said: “North Dakota cannot afford to waste either the development or the contributions of its talented young women, who support the economic health of their families and this state’s economic future.”

AAUW’s National Women’s History Month Celebration Generates Buzz on Blogs

On the Gender Across Borders blog, Emily Heroy wrote AAUW: “… has great listings for events going on throughout the month” while the WriteSisters.com blog made mention of AAUW’s  activities on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Flickr. “AAUW is promoting a host of activities in cyberspace, tapping pretty much every social media forum to spread the word and raise consciousness.” AAUW’s Women’s History Month kick off blog post was published on BlogHer.

AAUW Funds Record Number of Campus Action Projects

Harvey Mudd College News Service (Monday, March 1)

AAUW is funding a record 12 Campus Action Project (CAP) teams in the 2009–10 academic year. News about Harvey Mudd College receiving an AAUW grant is posted on the school’s website along with a quote from Kate C. Farrar, director of AAUW’s leadership programs. She said: “AAUW is breaking through educational barriers so that all women and girls have a fair chance, and that is exactly what the CAP teams selected this year are doing in their communities. Our teams are increasing the number of young women entering and staying in science and math-related fields by addressing the barriers they face in school, college, and the workplace.”

AAUW Supports Right to Choose

Wausau Daily Herald (Tuesday, March 2)

In a letter to the editor written in response to recent anti-choice actions, AAUW of Wisconsin State President Marian Seagren Hall wrote: “AAUW trusts that every woman has the ability to make her own informed choices regarding her reproductive life within the dictates of her own moral and religious beliefs… AAUW will work to support prevention first, comprehensive sex education, domestic and international family planning programs, and access to reproductive health services.”

AAUW’s Lisa Maatz Contributes to Book that Continues to Receive Praise

Christian Science Monitor (Friday, March 5)

An article about Secrets of Powerful Women, which features a chapter written by AAUW Public Policy Director Lisa Maatz, says: “for all the focus on women, the contributors neither demean men nor debate which gender leads better… The takeaway message to women is confident: Everyone benefits when more women lead.”  In her chapter, Maatz focuses on her early experience with the power of advocacy. Articles about the book have also appeared in People Magazine, on The Women’s Media Center website and on Vivid Living.

In an effort to further boost subscriptions to Action Network and Washington Update, and in honor of Women’s History Month, AAUW’s public policy and government relations department is running a contest during the entire month of March.

  • AAUW Action Network: anyone can sign up, member or non-member. AAUW will draw a name from among the new subscribers in March, and one winner will receive a signed copy of Secrets of Powerful Women. http://capwiz.com/aauw/mlm/signup/
  • AAUW Washington Update: This is a members-only weekly legislative update. AAUW will draw a name from among the new subscribers in March, and one winner will receive a signed copy of Secrets of Powerful Women. http://www.aauw.org/publications/washupdate/index.cfm

Vote now for your favorite images in the AAUW art contest with a link to the contest page. http://www.aauw.org/contests/.  The deadline for voting is March 11.

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Do you want to learn how to implement great salary negotiation programs on your campus? If you’re attending the AAUW convention, check out the “Salary Negotiation Skills for Women” workshop. If you cannot attend the workshop, you still can follow the links below to learn more about the different resources available to you.

As Lisa Maatz, AAUW director of public policy and government relations will discuss during the workshop, in the 2007 research report Behind the Pay Gap, AAUW found that just one year out of college, women working full time earn less than their male colleagues earn, even when they work in the same field. Learning to negotiate salary and benefits can help close that gap, especially for young women who are just starting their careers.

The 2007–08 AAUW Campus Action Project (CAP) team from Clarkson University used their grant money to empower women students to learn and use evidence-based negotiation strategies and techniques in professional and work situations and to provide a safe space for women to learn to participate actively in negotiations. During the convention workshop, Mary Graham from Clarkson will talk about this project and how the CAP team identified a group of 10–15 women student leaders who researched, developed, and delivered salary negotiation training to their peers on campus. The project culminated with a negotiations contest in which students who participated in the training sessions were able to use their new skills to compete for prizes. CAP team student members Ashley and Lisa, the winners of the competition, each wrote guest blog posts last year about their experiences.

AAUW and the WAGE Project recently formed a partnership to focus their efforts on ensuring that, before graduation, women have knowledge about negotiating equitable pay. Annie Houle, national director of campus and community initiatives for the WAGE Project, will explain to workshop attendees how AAUW members can bring the $tart $mart Campus Negotiation Workshop to their local campus. If you are interested in becoming involved with $tart $mart, please fill out this form.

Related Salary Negotiation Resources

Recently, through a Legal Advocacy Fund Campus Outreach grant, the AAUW Gresham Area (OR) Branch presented Women Taking the Lead in Salary Negotiation at Mt. Hood Community College. If you are an AAUW member with a campus salary negotiation workshop or program in mind, but you need funding, you can apply for up to $750 from LAF to fund it.

Last year, AAUW formed a partnership with Job Search Intelligence, and you can use their free fair pay compensation tool to help you determine your personalized target salary goal. This information can help you make informed career choices and give you tools to engage in intelligent salary negotiation with a future employer, particularly if you are a woman and/or a person of color.

On a side, but related, note, a few weeks ago a friend recommended I read Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide. I did and now I highly recommend it to you!

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June 10, 1963: President Kennedy signs the Equal Pay Act

President Kennedy signs the Equal Pay Act

On June 10, 1963, President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law. Forty-six years later, as I prepare to graduate from college and enter the workforce, there are so many career options and opportunities at my fingertips that a woman in 1963 would not have had access to.

 I take the wide breadth of choices for my future for granted and, if I’m being completely honest, I hardly ever stop to consider the work that went into opening the opportunities I enjoy today. I’m confident that I’m just as capable and qualified as a man doing the same job and that I deserve equal pay for equal work. Upon reflection, I recognize that this simple and largely unconscious conviction is also the product of decades of work.

When I consider all the benefits that the Equal Pay Act has accrued, I’m proud and grateful and also immensely frustrated. When President Kennedy signed the bill into law, its supporters expected that women would come to receive, as the name implies, equal pay for equal work. I’m sure that they would be far from satisfied to learn that 46 years and nine presidents later, women working full time still only earn an average of 78 cents to every dollar men earn.

In our 2007 report, Behind the Pay Gap, AAUW controlled for factors that most commonly affect differences in earnings, such as education and training, parenthood, and hours worked, and found that college-educated women still earn less than men. Even when you compare college-educated men and women with the exact same major and occupation, women earn an average of $20,200 less per year. As a soon-to-be college grad, I’m painfully aware of what an extra $20,200 per year could mean for my life.

On this anniversary day, the best way I can think to honor all the work that led to the signing of the Equal Pay Act, is to continue to work until the law actually does what its creators intended it to do. AAUW believes that the Paycheck Fairness Act, which will close some of the loopholes of the Equal Pay Act, strengthen penalties for equal pay violations, and prohibit retaliation against workers who ask about wage practices or disclose their own wages, is a strong step in the right direction.

Learn more about the Paycheck Fairness Act and email your senator to urge him or her to quickly pass the bill. Then send an e-card to a friend or family member urging them to celebrate this anniversary by contacting their senators too.

Written by Stephanie Vertongen, AAUW Public Policy and Government Relations fellow.

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This year, Equal Pay Day fell between two major national news stories — the swine flu outbreak and Obama’s 100th day in office. Fortunately, the issue of pay equity didn’t fall off the media’s radar screen, as economic issues remain a top concern among Americans. Here is a news roundup of Equal Pay Day through the AAUW media lens:

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What do medicine, anthropology, engineering, and chemistry have in common? These are a few of the majors the women on Princeton University’s ice skating team represent. I was up there this weekend to watch their final event of the season, cheering loudly and watching in awe as Emily Hughes did a guest performance. I was told she goes to Harvard and is training hard to once again represent the United States in the Olympics.

What else do these women have in common? After graduation, they will soon find themselves among other women college graduates who, just one year out of college, earn less than their male colleagues earn, even when they work in the same field. Ten years after graduation, this pay gap widens, as documented in the AAUW study Behind the Pay Gap. Combine race and lower socioeconomic factors with gender, and the gap widens.

I got into a conversation with some of these students about the pay gap, and they didn’t realize that what was true in their mother’s time is still true today. Of course, I talked about the fact that women make only 78 cents, on average, for every dollar a man makes and explained the reasons why there was such a thing as Equal Pay Day, which is being observed on April 28 this year. Many were concerned with simply getting the job they wanted (or in some cases getting accepted into grad school) and were unaware that having good salary negotiation skills would not necessarily protect them from pay discrimination.

Of course, they all were into Twitter, so I told them about the Fem2.0 Twittercast on equal pay held last night with Lisa Maatz, AAUW’s public policy director, as a key speaker — or should I say tweeter in this case? What I loved about the Twittercast was the number of resources participants gave that are useful to all women. I know exams are just around the corner, so competition for time is tough, but I hope one of the students I met took the time to join in. The more we educate all women, the better the chance that these students won’t have to fight the wage gap on behalf of their own daughters.

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