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Posts Tagged ‘equal pay day’

Members of academic departments tend to stick together like peanut butter and jelly, forks and knives, or in my case, grants and early coffee trips. Students within the same major or minor usually connect during academic events, from poetry readings to trips to the forest to study the local fauna. At the start of my fall semester in 2011, there was only one other student in St. Mary’s College’s women’s studies program who had self-designed a major, which made my academic community quite sparse. Through the support of my women’s studies sidekick, Catherine Cleary, I was fortunate enough to learn about AAUW and hear firsthand about her wonderful experience on the National Student Advisory Council the previous year. Just a few weeks after submitting my application, I was thrilled to be selected as a member of the 2011–12 SAC.

Within the next month, amid my courses and the quickly approaching Thanksgiving break, I flew to Washington, D.C., to meet the nine other SAC members at our orientation. This weekend excursion created such excitement for a subject I already had great passion for. After the events on our packed itinerary — including my favorite stop, the Sewall-Belmont House — I returned to South Bend, Indiana, with even greater excitement for the upcoming year. Through weekly conference calls, writing blog posts for AAUW, and preparing for and participating in the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders, I got to know the other SAC members and the women at AAUW who helped us and kept us informed about opportunities throughout the year.

During my term on the SAC, I was given a plethora of opportunities, ideas, and programs to apply to my own campus and community. Teamed up with my academic sidekick, I successfully completed a Campus Action Project, which was based on AAUW´s research report Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School, to draft a letter to the South Bend mayor asking for a declaration of Equal Pay Day and to hold a $tart $mart program on our campus. AAUW gave me a golden year of opportunity that I will forever appreciate. In addition to meeting amazing women like fair pay advocate Lilly Ledbetter and cartoonist Liza Donnelly and presenting our Campus Action Project at NCCWSL, I expanded my interests and strengthened my network of supportive women. I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to apply for the SAC — it was the most exciting and enjoyable year I have ever had. One of the best parts is that even though my term on the SAC is over, my connection and time with AAUW truly has just begun.

Applications for the 2012–13 National Student Advisory Council will be available on August 27 and are due September 30. Visit the SAC page to access the application, instructions, and information about qualifications. Students at AAUW college/university partner member institutions receive preference.

This post was written by former National Student Advisory Council member Laura Corrigan.

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“How many states do you think have 100 percent equal pay between women and men?”

This is one of three questions I asked while I tabled for six hours at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, for Equal Pay Day last week. Equipped with posters, pamphlets, and a variety of information on pay equity, I educated students — one chocolate coin at a time — about the pay gap.

I had a strategy to reel in students. I yelled, “Free chocolate!” and heads turned. Once students approached my table and started reaching for the shiny chocolate coins, I asked them, “Do you know what the pay gap is in Washington?”

They looked puzzled. Some asked for clarification, and everyone had a guess as to how much women make compared to men.

“Sixty cents?”

“Eighty-one cents?”

“Forty-seven cents?”

“Seventy-five cents?”

“Ninety cents?”

“It’s actually 77 cents!” I would reply. Some students were disappointed because their guesses were so close, and others were disappointed because they thought Washington women’s average wages would be higher. I gave them all chocolate.

“Do you want more chocolate?” I asked. Everyone did.

“How many states do not have a pay gap at all?” This stumped everyone. I heard answers anywhere between one and 10. Some replied with specific states: Oregon, Colorado, Idaho. When I told them that the answer was zero, they all looked shocked.

More chocolate.

“OK, final question: Why is Equal Pay Day today?” No one responded. Some thought for a little while, but no one could come up with an answer. “This is the date the average women would have to work until to make the same amount of money men made in 2011. So when men work for 12 months, women have to work 16 to make the same amount.” That was probably the most shocking to the passing students.

“Wow, that really sucks.”

“Are you serious?”

“No way!”

To improve their spirits, I gave them more chocolate.

This was my routine: question, answer, chocolate. I was surprised by the varying opinions. While some thought that women made less than half what men do, others felt that the pay gap was a thing of the past. My generation seems confused about equal pay for equal work, at least the people whom I informally surveyed with chocolate incentives.

Pay equity is an issue that I feel all college students should be concerned about. We are not far from a time when we will need to find jobs and be financially independent. We should be concerned that half of the population is still not making the same amount in wages as the other half.

On Equal Pay Day, April 17, we succeeded in making the issue of equal pay move from a national public policy issue to something personal to the students. Awareness is the first step toward change.

This post was written by National Student Advisory Council member Katie Donahoe.

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On Tuesday, April 17, AAUW marked Equal Pay Day — the symbolic day when women’s earnings finally catch up to what men made last year — with a patio-style Unhappy Hour outside our national office.

Featuring a “secret salary” garden (see below) and a pep talk from AAUW Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Lisa Maatz, the event — which drew more than 150 guests — was a great success. See for yourself!

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White House Equal Pay Task Force ReportAAUW applauds the White House’s release of a progress report detailing the activities of the president’s Equal Pay Task Force. The report was released along with a presidential proclamation to mark April 17 as Equal Pay Day, the day women’s earnings finally catch up to what men made last year. The task force was created in 2010, and their report showed the group’s achievements to date on a host of equal pay and workplace sex-based discrimination issues.

In a tough economy, technical assistance to employers and civil rights enforcement are especially critical. Right now, most women are just relieved if they have work. They’re worried they might jeopardize their jobs if they ask too many questions, making them that much more vulnerable to pay discrimination.

The task force’s progress report noted areas in which they have been actively promoting full compliance with equal pay laws, working cross-departmentally to address gender pay disparities. AAUW is pleased to see special attention paid to enforcement and litigation efforts at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), as well as increased interagency cooperation between EEOC, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), and the Department of Justice. Of particular note, OFCCP has evaluated the pay practices of more than 10,000 federal contractors, helping to ensure a fair shot at equal pay for more than 4.3 million workers.

AAUW is excited by the administration’s commitment to addressing pay discrimination. We hope they continue to use the bully pulpit to remind employers and employees of the centrality of the issue. After all, we’re all in this together – and when women aren’t paid equally, their families and entire communities suffer.

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Today, we are raising awareness about the need for fair pay and hoping for a future when Equal Pay Day happens on December 31 instead of April 17.

But our hope must be built on action. As we get closer to November, it’s important to consider how we can use the 2012 election to close the wage gap.

It was with this in mind that we asked you why fair pay matters in the upcoming election. To help inspire you, we promised a signed copy of Lilly Ledbetter’s new book to the person with the best response. Without further ado, here are our favorites!

Five: One word, “Wisconsin” — Renee Kelling Barr, via Facebook

Four: Equal pay is an important election issue for multiple reasons. One, it raises tax revenue. Two, if you want to improve graduation rates for Americans, fair pay is a great incentive. Three, equal pay is necessary for healthy families that have women as the bread winners. — Heather Mattioli, via Facebook

Three: Because the next generation of voters already thinks we’ve achieved equal pay, and awakening to the reality of equal rights in the job market is a terrible, disheartening, demoralizing process — one that I’d rather spare our future generation of women. If “the 99 percent” is 52 percent women, 77 percent of the pay leaves all of us — men and women — struggling even more to support ourselves and our families. — Brandini Brandle Brandretti, via Facebook

Two: There seem to be more negative side issues being exploited in this election cycle, which clouds fair pay. Pay equity should be one issue that could be the common ground for all sides. The nation needs to create a culture of respect, and pay equity would smooth the road for the creative minds of both genders to work on other issues that confront the world. — Connie Dunkelberger, via AAUW Dialog

Winner: Because women hold up half the sky. If women do not have parity in compensation for our skills, half of the United States’ opportunity for economic growth is lost, generation after generation. Marti J. Sladek, via Facebook

Congratulations to Marti, and thanks to everyone who participated for your great answers. From all of us at AAUW Dialog and from Ledbetter herself — who recorded the message below especially for our blog readers — have a hopeful Equal Pay Day.

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The Simple Truth About the Pay Gap (2012)

Before I started working at AAUW, I never really gave much thought to the gender pay gap. Sure, I knew it existed. I knew the numbers — women make 77 cents, on average, for every dollar earned by men — and I wasn’t pleased about it, but that was about the extent of my concern.

There are a handful of reasons why I wasn’t on the front lines of the fight for fair wages — being a post-grad, for example, made it difficult to conceive of any stable wage, let alone a fair one. But the most notable reason was that I simply didn’t know how the gender pay gap actually worked. I didn’t know how it was calculated, what numbers people used, or where these numbers even came from. Most of all, I didn’t understand exactly how these numbers ended up being different for men and women.

Today, I know and understand all of those components — and then some. And while I have the advantage of working in a research department that is dedicated to this issue, I know that anyone can learn these basics. With our recent publication The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap, anyone and everyone can understand how the wage gap works. Updated with the most recent statistics just in time for Equal Pay Day, the brochure is short, accessible, and free of academic jargon or lengthy analyses.

However, understanding a subject like the pay gap is not without its consequences. While I am less ignorant, I am also more frustrated by the research presented in The Simple Truth. I am frustrated that the pay gap increases as men and women get older: Women ages 16–19 who are working full time earn 95 percent of what their male counterparts earn, compared with 76 percent for women 65 and older. I am frustrated by the fact that while the pay gap among all full-time workers is dreary enough, it’s even worse when we focus on minorities. For example, on average Hispanic and Latina women and African American women earn 91 percent of what men in their same racial demographic earn but only 61 percent and 70 percent, respectively, of what white men get paid. I am frustrated that while critics attribute the pay gap to men’s and women’s choices, there remains a 12 percent unexplained difference — after controlling for things like college major, industry, number of children, and other factors — in earnings between male and female college graduates 10 years after college, as shown in AAUW’s research report Behind the Pay Gap.

But anger and frustration aren’t necessarily bad things. When anger is properly harnessed, it becomes fuel for social change. Anger gives us the incentive to get up and actually do something. Gloria Steinem once said, “The truth will set you free. But first it will piss you off.” With knowledge and truth — and the energy that both incite — we can collectively work together to ensure that all women earn their fair share for a job well done. So take the first step, and share the truth with your friends, your communities, and your politicians by giving them a dose of The Simple Truth. Order copies of the report online for free, and look out for updates on what you can do on Equal Pay Day this year.

This post was written by AAUW Research Intern Julie Smolinski.

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Grace and Grit by Lilly LedbetterEqual Pay Day is not our favorite holiday.

Next Tuesday, April 17, is the symbolic day when women’s wages catch up with what men made last year. We’d much prefer to mark the occasion on December 31, and we’re working hard to make that happen.

In the meantime, we’ll still mark Equal Pay Day every year. But at least there will be a silver lining on the unhappy occasion this year. We’re giving away a signed copy of Lilly Ledbetter’s new book, Grace and Grit, to the person who can best explain why fair pay is an important election issue.

Here’s how you can win:

  1. In the comments section, tell us why fair pay matters in the 2012 election. Need inspiration? Start with AAUW Executive Director Linda Hallman’s thoughts on last year’s Equal Pay Day events.
  2. Check back here on Equal Pay Day (Tuesday, April 17) to read the top answers and find out who the lucky winner is.
  3. Cross your fingers that you win!

It’s that easy! Now get to it.

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