Posts Tagged ‘Equal Pay’

Taking Steps toward Fair Pay

Obama SOTU 2013AAUW completely agrees with President Obama’s remark last night — equal pay needs to happen now, not later. In 2012, AAUW found that college-educated women already earn 7 percent less than men just one year out of college — even when women have the same major and occupation as their male counterparts. It doesn’t have to be this way. In addition to Congress passing the Paycheck Fairness Act this year (take action to urge your representative to co-sponsor!), AAUW strongly believes there are concrete actions that the Obama administration can take that would enable women to bring home the pay they have rightfully earned. Here are some of our ideas:

  • Issue an executive order forbidding federal contractors from retaliating against employees who ask questions about compensation. With federal contractors and subcontractors making up nearly a quarter of the federal civilian workforce, this order would protect millions of workers seeking equal pay for equal work.
  • Replace the Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ (OFCCP) current guidelines for investigating wage discrimination. OFCCP ensures that federal contractors and subcontractors (which employ millions of workers) provide equal employment opportunity through affirmative action and nondiscrimination. In January 2011, the OFCCP proposed recalling and replacing the two guidelines that shape how it conducts these investigations. The current guidelines obligate the OFCCP to follow an identical procedure for all compensation discrimination investigations “regardless of the facts of a particular case.” AAUW called on the OFCCP to rescind these antiquated guidelines back in 2011.
  • OFCCP should implement a much-needed compensation database. AAUW has long supported OFCCP conducting a survey of contractor employment data to target enforcement efforts and better understand why women and people of color continue to be paid less relative to their counterparts. OFCCP should ensure that the data collected can be used to conduct in-depth analyses of pay practices in various industries to identify the most problematic fields and provide industrywide guidance where there are systemic problems.
  • Ask the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to develop regulations directing employers to collect wage data including the race, sex, and national origin of employees. This information is not currently collected, making it difficult for the EEOC to investigate discrimination allegations.
  • Ensure adequate enforcement of all civil rights laws through sufficient funding and staffing of the EEOC, OFCCP, and various civil rights divisions. AAUW is worried that ongoing budget pressures will lead to reduced funding for these agencies, leaving millions of Americans without access to civil rights law enforcement.

The Obama administration has a real opportunity to further equal pay for equal work despite congressional gridlock. These and other administrative actions are available to the administration right now. We know the president is committed to equal pay for women. Let’s not make women wait any longer. Help us spread the word: Share this blog with your friends and participate in AAUW’s tweetstorm from 1 to 2 p.m. Eastern today. Tweet #TalkPay and this blog to encourage the administration to take action on equal pay.

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“Women don’t negotiate because they’re not idiots.”

That’s the provocative title and main thrust of a recent Huffington Post piece in which Joan Williams argues that negotiating can leave women “worse off than if they’d kept their mouths shut.” Williams appropriately notes the 2006 Babcock study on the backlash directed at women who negotiate. The study demonstrates that there is sexism in the workplace. But does that surprise us? Does that mean that as women we should just sit back and accept that we have to ensure in every situation that we are “well-liked” rather than ask for what we deserve — to be paid fairly?

Williams questioned how $tart $mart salary negotiation workshops (co-run by AAUW and the WAGE Project and featured in a recent New York Times article) address any backlash that women may face in negotiation. What AAUW and $tart $mart make clear is that responsibility for the wage gap doesn’t lie solely with women as individuals. The workshops do demonstrate some of the key stereotypes that women face in the workplace. And AAUW’s own research on women’s earnings just one year out of college points to the variety of other factors related to the current gap.

I couldn’t agree more with Williams’ ask for a “new system for setting starting salaries.” She suggests that employers provide new hires with information about salary ranges and potential stereotypes about women in the workplace. This idea connects to recent research that shows that women are much more likely to negotiate if the position noted explicitly that the salary was “negotiable.” Plainly put, women seek permission for what men automatically assume they are entitled to.

There are many things we — policymakers, business owners, hiring managers, and individuals — can do to fight the wage gap. But, of all the things we can do, telling women to give in to the realities of sexism and give up negotiating shouldn’t be one of them.

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As New Orleans gears up for Super Bowl XLVII this Sunday in the Superdome, let’s take a timeout to examine another matchup with much higher stakes: where women are now versus where they could be. When it comes to gender equity, our team’s still behind on a whole host of issues, and we’ll need everyone out on the field to help make up the difference.

Nearly 50 years after President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law, our research found that one year out of college, women earn only 82 cents for every dollar men earn.

changethescore grads

At this summer’s AAUW National Convention in New Orleans, we’re going to talk about the legacy of the Equal Pay Act and the unfinished work in the fight for pay equity. On Monday, June 10, we will host a plenary session with Lilly Ledbetter and our own Public Policy Director Lisa Maatz.

Pay equity isn’t the only arena where we’ve got ground to make up, though. A lot of people are going to be talking about sports this weekend, so let’s touch on that for a moment. Forty years after the passage of Title IX, we’ve still got yards to go before reaching true equity. In 2012, the NCAA reported that the average college had 238 male athletes and only 180 female athletes.

changethescore NCAA

We celebrated the 40th anniversary of Title IX last year, and we continue to talk about how we can support young women in school at this year’s convention as a part of our broader conversation on Leading across Generations. We should encourage girls to follow their passions, whether girls are aspiring athletes, politicos, or engineers.

Speaking of aspiring politicians, 2012 was a big year for women in the U.S. Senate. Your presence at the polls and voter-turnout campaigns like It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard helped elect dozens of women to both the House and Senate. But even with a record-breaking 20 female senators, there are still four men for every woman in the upper chamber.

changethescore senators

If we’re going to elect more women into our highest offices, we’ve also got to convince more of them to pick up the torch and run. Our Elect Her–Campus Women Win training program is helping inspire the next generation of first-string leaders. We’re dedicating one of our convention workshops to the program so that you can get an in-depth understanding of how the program works and what you can do to support it.

Politics isn’t the only area where we need more women in the game. Across the board, we’ve got plenty of problems to tackle, including how to get more women into science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Currently, women make up only 13 percent of engineers.

changethescore stem

We’ve studied extensively the root causes of the STEM gender gap and what we can do to fix them. You can attend our STEM Branch Programming convention workshop to learn about other ways your branch can support girls and women in STEM in your community.

Don’t be a Monday-morning quarterback in the fight for women’s equity. We can’t afford to take our eyes off the ball, and it will take an all-star effort to get us over the goal line. But here’s the thing: You’ve got to be in the room to call the plays. Join us in New Orleans June 9–12 as we explore how AAUW has been breaking through barriers and leading across generations for 132 years. It’s down to the wire on our best-value rate. Register today before the clock runs out on Sunday!

Continue this discussion and share these scoreboard images on social media between now and Sunday to spread the word about why we need to change the score for women and girls. Use #ChangeTheScore on Twitter, and check out our Facebook and Tumblr during the big game!

This post was written by AAUW Member Leadership Programs Associate Ryan Burwinkel.

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Take action for fair pay. Join the AAUW Action Network: http://bit.ly/TwoMinuteActivist

Take action for fair pay. Join the AAUW Action Network: http://bit.ly/TwoMinuteActivist

On the fourth anniversary of the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law, I am focused on unfinished business. We — women, families, this nation — need Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. When President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law on January 29, 2009 — the first law he signed after taking office — I never dreamed that four years later we’d still be without the Paycheck Fairness Act. I’m ready to bring back the euphoria of 2009. And we have the opportunity to do so right now.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) have reintroduced the Paycheck Fairness Act this Congress. The bill has the support of the president, and we have strong advocates in my friends at AAUW and in you. AAUW was critical to the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009 and is already working hard again to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.

The fair pay issue is on the nation’s radar once again, thanks to President Obama’s inaugural address. I had the great privilege of hearing him in person as he called for equal pay for equal efforts, and I was overjoyed to hear the crowd give that line the most applause. I know the president cares deeply about this issue, and I hope he will consider issuing an executive order that would ban federal contractors from retaliating against employees who ask questions about compensation. This is a critical piece of the Paycheck Fairness Act that the president can address while we wait for and urge Congress to act.

I’m looking to Congress not only for the Paycheck Fairness Act but also for the Fair Pay Act, a bill led by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). This bill addresses the gender pay gap between traditionally female-dominated occupations and male-dominated occupations, which continue to pay more despite requiring the same levels of skill and education. I want a society that values women’s and men’s work equally, and I know we can get there together.

You see, this fight for fair pay started out to right a personal wrong, but my fight is now about women nationwide and their families. The pay gap affects whether families can buy food, pay the mortgage, and stay healthy. Do we really want, as AAUW research showed, to continue to allow our female graduates to be paid 7 percent less than male graduates despite working in the same fields and with the same college majors? I won’t rest until that is no longer the case.

Here’s what I ask of you: Stand up for yourselves, stay informed, and take action with the folks at AAUW. And remember, my journey in the fight for pay equity is for you. I hope you’ll stand with me.

AAUW will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act at our 2013 National Convention in New Orleans. On the afternoon of June 10, join us for an anniversary panel featuring Lilly Ledbetter and AAUW Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Lisa Maatz. Register today so you don’t miss out!

This post was written by fair pay advocate and friend of AAUW Lilly Ledbetter.

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Obama Inauguration speech 2013We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still. Just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall. Just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone, to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.

It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.                        

—    President Barack Obama, January 21, 2013

The chills I felt while hearing these words during President Obama’s inaugural address had nothing to do with the Washington, D.C., weather and everything to do with hope and pride in being an American. I went to the Mall with my parents and my 7-year-old daughter, and we waited for hours in the cold to see the president. But it was completely worth it.

It was worth it to hear the president unite the civil rights struggles of the last century into one sweeping idea — that we are fighting for the rights of every person to be treated and valued equally. It was worth it to hear him say that being born a woman or African American or gay makes you no less equal in the eyes of others and no less deserving of the full protection of our laws. It was worth it to hear him say that women should receive equal pay for equal work, something I’ve dedicated my own life to fighting for. It was worth it to hear the word “gay” said aloud for the first time in an inaugural address — a small word but a big step forward. It was worth the cold and the wait and the crowds to hear these words.

I attended the inauguration with my parents, who lived through the Jim Crow era and remember the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment, and my daughter, who doesn’t remember life before the United States had an African American president. To see the impact of history on my own family — is it any wonder I got the chills?

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My pal Lilly Ledbetter will be on The Colbert Report on Halloween. I think it’s only fair that I issue a warning to Mr. Colbert: I think he may have finally met his match. I’m thinking he won’t know what to do with the lethal combination of her sweet Southern drawl, her infectious laugh, and her front-row perspective on history.

My friendship with Lilly continues to be one of the great privileges of my life. The friendship has taken me all over the United States — to AAUW National Conventions (she hasn’t missed one since 2009), to various AAUW state conventions around the country, and to the Democratic National Conventions in 2008 and 2012. We’ll do New Orleans together for AAUW’s 2013 National Convention in June. I do some of her letter- and speech-writing, and she mentioned me in her book.

This great friendship formed despite meeting under unfortunate circumstances: The U.S. Supreme Court had just ruled against Lilly in its wrongheaded May 2007 decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. Lilly and I lobbied Capitol Hill together after the decision came down. Our work helped pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and we grew even closer as we lobbied together over the years on the Paycheck Fairness Act. Since 2009, Lilly and I have worked tirelessly to pass this important legislation to close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Throughout our advocacy work, Lilly has always marveled, “How is it possible you’re not a lawyer?” I always respond, ”I just play one on TV.”

But she’s not just a friend of mine — she’s a friend to AAUW. Lilly has taken the time to get to know AAUW members across the country, and she does so because she sincerely enjoys it. She always tells me that sitting down with AAUW members is like relaxing in her own family room. She basically did just that with my own family recently. Much to our delight, Lilly had dinner with me, my mom, and my brother on a recent campaign swing through Ohio.

I expect that Colbert will throw a few curveballs Lilly’s way — and, considering the timing, he may even work in a Halloween costume or two. But I’m not worried. I know Lilly will handle his questions with aplomb, especially if he asks about her own Halloween costume. That one’s easy. She’s a feminist icon.

P.S. Interested in learning Lilly’s story and supporting future fair pay efforts? Everyone who donates $130 or more to AAUW receives a limited-edition copy of her book, Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond

Update: Watch the interview by following the link below:

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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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Flash Mob for Equal Pay, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.During my nearly five years at AAUW, I have had the privilege of participating in a number of very fun activities to raise awareness about an extremely serious problem — the gender wage gap, which puts women at an economic disadvantage and puts many families on shaky financial ground. We have danced in the rain, cheered on Batgirl, and tweeted up a storm for fair pay — actions that were all firmly rooted in our solid research.

We’re pleased to formally announce that later this month we’re taking the conversation to an even more informed level with the release of a new AAUW report, Graduating to a Pay Gap. Our researchers will look at the gender pay gap with a very specific group in mind: college men and women who are working full time just one year after graduation. Why this group? Because focusing on them is the best way to do an apples-to-apples comparison of men’s and women’s wages controlling for age, education, experience, and other factors that might affect pay.

The new report, which will be released October 24, is an update of sorts to AAUW’s widely cited Behind the Pay Gap, which found that one year out of college, women earned just 80 percent of what their male peers earned. Graduating to a Pay Gap, authored by Christianne Corbett and Catherine Hill, is Behind the Pay Gap with a timely twist. In addition to providing the latest salary data for this population — whose average age is 23 — the report will also look at the other reasons why some students make more than others. It isn’t obvious who brings home the biggest pay check, so stay tuned to find out interesting stats about what affects pay. For example, do women attending private universities have a better chance of avoiding the pay gap than their peers at state schools?

Starting today, under a new blog series we’re calling Gap and Gown, we’ll have regular posts focused on issues raised in the new report. Then, in November, we’ll hold a panel discussion at our national office with experts such as the nationally recognized financial aid guru and FinAid.org publisher Mark Kantrowitz and AAUW Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Lisa Maatz, who is a contributing author to Secrets of Powerful Women: Leading Change for a New Generation.

In the meantime, if you come across a great Instagram photo or image that illustrates the wage gap or the student debt problem in a gendered way, please tweet at @AAUWPress so we can share it with our followers. This issue must remain front and center — unless we want to do what the brilliant equal pay poster  of the smiling boy and the not-so-happy girl says and prepare our daughters for working life by giving them less pocket money.

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The Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 3220) is a commonsense bill that would deter wage discrimination by closing loopholes in current law. The bill takes meaningful steps to create incentives for employers to follow the law, empower women to negotiate for equal pay, and strengthen federal outreach and enforcement efforts. It would also bar retaliation against employees who disclose their own wages. Without this bill, employers can penalize and even fire workers for talking about their salaries. This egregious practice leaves employees in the dark and prevents them from finding out about pay discrimination in the workplace.

AAUW and fair-pay advocate Lilly Ledbetter, the author of Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond, have been working hard to get the word out on Capitol Hill. Ledbetter even gave AAUW and Lisa Maatz, our director of public policy and government relations, a shout-out during her appearance on the Rachel Maddow Show on Monday night.

Watch the clip below, read about last week’s House vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, and stay tuned to find out more about how the Senate vote turns out.

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Editor’s note: Today, the House of Representatives voted 233-180 against considering the Paycheck Fairness Act, and the Senate is also expected to vote on the bill next week. This post is adapted from the statement that Lilly Ledbetter submitted to the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee on Wednesday.

Nobody wants to be the poster child for unequal pay for equal work, but that’s just what happened to me. Five years ago this week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against me in my sex discrimination case against Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. In that 5-4 ruling, the justices took away everything a jury of my peers had awarded me after being unfairly paid for years — even my back pay.

The court said I should have complained every time I got a smaller raise than the men, even if I didn’t know what the men were getting paid and even if I had no way to prove the decision was discriminatory. In other words, the court said if you don’t figure things out right away, a company can treat you like a second-class citizen for the rest of your career.

I won’t lie to you — I was pretty devastated by that decision. But instead of taking it quietly, I’ve been fighting back from the moment the court made its ruling. In 2009, President Barack Obama corrected this injustice by making the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act the first bill he signed into law. This law allows people to challenge every discriminatory paycheck they receive — it’s just common sense when you think about it.

But my legislation was only one stop on the road to fair pay. I’m on the front lines again, advocating for another bill that will bring us even closer to the dream of equal pay for equal work: the Paycheck Fairness Act. The Paycheck Fairness Act faces a critical vote in the Senate next week, and I’m so heartened to see the House making its own noise on an issue that is so near and dear to my heart.

The Paycheck Fairness Act is the first update to the 1963 Equal Pay Act since it was passed almost 50 years ago. You won’t find a stronger supporter of this bill than me. Why? Because it takes real steps to create stronger incentives for employers to follow the law, deterring pay discrimination before it even starts. Better still, these same steps reflect many of the common practices that other civil rights laws have used for years — bringing the Equal Pay Act into the 21st century while at the same time utilizing principles that are familiar to businesses. With the extension of these reasonable and familiar ideas, we can treat both businesses and women fairly. Take it from me, women don’t want to go to court — we’d much prefer that everyone just follow the law in the first place!

The bill would also establish new training and research initiatives and create education programs to help both employers and employees prevent situations like mine from ever happening at all. This bill would also strengthen federal outreach and enforcement efforts, helping to empower women to negotiate for equal pay.

From my perspective, one of the most important provisions of the bill would prohibit retaliation against workers who ask about employers’ wage practices or disclose their own wages to others. This provision would have been particularly helpful to me because Goodyear prohibited me and my colleagues from discussing or sharing information about our wages. They made it clear we could be fired if we did — and this was perfectly legal! This old-school policy delayed my discovery of the pay inequities between me and my male co-workers by almost 20 years. I only learned the details thanks to an anonymous tip I received shortly before my retirement. I still don’t know who sent me that note. They have been wise to stay silent because they could still be fired for sharing that simple truth with me.

I may have lost my personal battle, but I refuse to lose the war. I’m still fighting for all the other women and girls out there who deserve equal pay and equal treatment under the law. I need your help, because my law is just a down payment. I urge you to join me and my friends at AAUW to take action and tell your senators to move the Paycheck Fairness Act forward and pass a strong bill that will help women and their families.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Giving women my Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act without the Paycheck Fairness Act is like giving them a nail without the hammer.

This post was written by fair pay advocate and friend of AAUW Lilly Ledbetter.

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