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Women were the key to President Obama’s re-election. Now it’s time for women voters to hold the president accountable. AAUW has created a short to-do list to help the administration kick off its second term. Help us spread the word — and celebrate Inauguration Day — by sharing this blog! And don’t forget: AAUW has tips for how to make the most of Inauguration Day in person in Washington, D.C., or from the comfort of your own home.

Women were the key to the Obama administration’s re-election. As such, AAUW has created a short to-do list to help the administration kick off its second term.

Women were the key to the Obama administration’s re-election. As such, AAUW has created a short to-do list to help the administration kick off its second term.

 

This post was written by AAUW Political Media Coordinator Elizabeth Owens.

 

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The AAUW Action Fund’s It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard voter education and turnout campaign represents an unprecedented investment in making women’s voices heard in the 2012 election. Follow us on Twitter and on Tumblr for the latest updates, and check out our biweekly Campaign Update for news, resources, and ideas.

AAUW is braced to talk about some scary stuff during Halloween week, and we dare you to join us. From 1 to 2 p.m. EDT October 29–31, the Fair Pay Coalition, which is chaired by AAUW, will host a Twitter campaign to raise awareness about the need to close the gender wage gap. We’ll use the hashtag #RU4FairPay to ask candidates and members of Congress about their support for legislation to address the wage gap and to make fair pay a trending topic on Twitter.

This Twitter campaign is timed to hit candidates and voters in the final days before the election —because the statistics in our recent research report have us a little spooked. AAUW’s Graduating to a Pay Gap: The Earnings of Women and Men One Year after College Graduation found that just one year out of college, women are paid 82 cents, on average, for every dollar paid to their male peers. Among all full-time workers, women are paid 77 cents for every dollar paid to men — a figure that hasn’t budged in 10 years. The persistent pay gap suggests that educational achievement alone will not fix the problem.

This Twitter effort is part of AAUW’s nonpartisan get-out-the-vote campaign, It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard. The nationwide effort has informed women about the critical issues at stake in the 2012 election, including the gender wage gap.

Participation in the #RU4FairPay campaign is easy, even if you aren’t on Twitter. Here’s what you do:

  1. Post this blog to Facebook!
  2. Get in the holiday spirit by sending an equal pay e-card. Download and share via e-mail, Facebook, or Twitter.
  3. Use this tweet to target current senators, representatives, and candidates in some marquee races between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. EDT each day Monday, October 29, through Wednesday, October 31:

Dear [insert Twitter handle(s)]: We’re trick-or-treating 4 #fairpay this Halloween. #RU4fairpay? http://bit.ly/RuKBjn

You’ll find us tweeting at @AAUWPolicy and @AAUWActionFund. Finally, here is a list of Twitter handles for members of Congress and candidates. This Halloween, don’t say boo. Say #RU4FairPay?

ALASKA
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (@LisaMurkowski)

ARIZONA
Richard Carmona (@CarmonaforAZ) and Rep. Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake)

CONNECTICUT
Linda McMahon (@Linda_McMahon) and Rep. Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT)

DELAWARE
Sen. Tom Carper (@SenatorCarper) and Keith Spanarelli (@KeithSpanarelli)

FLORIDA
Sen. Bill Nelson (@SenBillNelson) and Rep. Connie Mack (@RepConnieMack)

HAWAII
Rep. Mazie Hirono (@MazieHirono) and Gov. Linda Lingle (@Lingle2012)

ILLINOIS
Sen. Mark Kirk (@SenatorKirk)

MAINE
Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins)

MASSACHUSETTS
Sen. Scott Brown (@USSenScottBrown) and Elizabeth Warren (@ElizabethforMA)

MICHIGAN
Rep. Pete Hoekstra (@PeteHoekstra) and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (@Stabenow)

MISSOURI
Rep. Todd Akin (@ToddAkin) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (@ClaireMC)

MONTANA
Rep. Denny Rehberg (@DennyRehberg) and Sen. Jon Tester (@JonTester)

NEBRASKA
Gov. Bob Kerrey (@KerreyBob) and state Rep. Deb Fischer (@DebFischer2012)

NEVADA
Rep. Shelly Berkley (@RepBerkley) and Sen. Dean Heller (@SenDeanHeller)

NEW MEXICO
Rep. Martin Heinrich (@Heinrich4NM) and Rep. Heather Wilson (@Heather4Senate)

NEW YORK
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) and Wendy Long (@WendyLongforNY)

NORTH DAKOTA
Heidi Heitkamp (@Heidi4ND) and Rep. Rick Berg (@RepRickBerg)

OHIO
Sen. Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) and Josh Mandel (@JoshMandelOhio)

VIRGINIA
Sen. George Allen (@GeorgeAllenVA), Gov. Tim Kaine (@TimKaine), and Sen. Mark Warner (@MarkWarner)

WISCONSIN
Rep. Tammy Baldwin (@TammyBaldwinWI) and Gov. Tommy Thompson (@TommyforWI)

This post was written by AAUW Political Media Coordinator Elizabeth Owens.

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

AAUW has been at the forefront of advocacy for fair pay for women for more than 100 years.

In 1894, the Association of Collegiate Alumnae, the precursor to AAUW, partnered with the Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics of Labor to examine the pay of college-educated women by collecting employment and salary information from ACA members. The bureau analyzed the data, and ACA published the results in the 1896 report Compensation in Certain Occupations of Women Who Have Received College or Other Special Training.

The report is fascinating. It is the testimony of the women themselves that proves most interesting. These rare, first-person accounts of women’s work experiences at that time are not often found in archival collections — or anywhere, for that matter.

Here are a few quotes from the report. As you read them, remember that they were written in 1894!

The woman in industry who finds herself employed in the occupations which are open to men and who frequently performs identical work for a salary or for wages much below those paid her co-workers of the opposite sex is naturally apt to inquire what reason, economic or other, justifies this inequality.

Men oftener than women have to support others. In spite of this, I cannot see why a man should be paid $200 more than I am paid to do the same work when he does it no better.

I know that my work here is appreciated and is paid because of its worth. I think many women are helping to keep down the rate of women’s wages by consenting to work for less compensation than would be given to a man for the same grade.

When I was doing office work, I received $6 a week and kept the books and was a typewriter, too. If a man had been employed for this work, his pay would have been $15 a week, and he would not have been required to perform the general office work. He would have been a professional bookkeeper, however, which I was not.

Women are fearful of asserting their inherent rights, standing as they now do on the verge of freedom. The time, however, is not far off when women will have a voice in making just laws for themselves and others, and this will no doubt have an effect in securing equal remuneration for equal services to both sexes.

Today we call “equal remuneration for equal service” by its simpler title: equal pay for equal work. On October 24, AAUW will release its latest equal pay report, Graduating to a Pay Gap, which builds on the shoulders of these women who worked on the issue more than a century ago.

This post was written by AAUW Archivist and Records Manager Suzanne Gould.

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The war on women is everywhere these days. We’ve seen a parade of Mad Men-era ideas that have shocked women down to our toes, and the pay-gap issue has not escaped such ridiculousness. Yesterday, the Senate voted along party lines to block the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have taken real steps to get employers to follow the law and deter pay discrimination before it even starts. But the senators who opposed the bill didn’t stop the fight for equal pay — all they did was create a lot of mad women!

Lilly Ledbetter and AAUW Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Lisa Maatz meet with senior White House staff.

I had the privilege of lobbying yesterday alongside fair-pay icon Lilly Ledbetter, who flew up from her home in Alabama to campaign for the bill. She and I spent the whole day talking with White House staff, members of Congress, and the press about the importance of fair pay to women and our economy. Over and over, we told legislators that the pay gap is real and has real consequences. A woman is far more likely than a man to spend her golden years in poverty, in part because the pay gap starts as soon as she throws her graduation cap in the air. AAUW’s research has shown that just one year out of college, women working full time already earn less than their male colleagues earn — even when they have the same major and work in the same field. Our research found that the gender pay gap shows up in 107 out of 111 occupations regardless of education level — and women get the short end of the stick.

From left: Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), and Lilly Ledbetter speak at a Senate press conference

The Paycheck Fairness Act could address this, and that’s what’s so frustrating about yesterday’s vote. Not only do women deserve equal pay for equal work, they need equal pay to support themselves and their families. When women are paid unequally, everyone suffers.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to keep fighting. I’m going to fight until every woman is treated equally and until she is paid according to her worth rather than outdated stereotypes.

It’s time for our paychecks and our national policies to catch up to the 21st century and to leave the nostalgia to television. Unequal pay has no place in today’s world.

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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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My attempt to be a fashion designer at age 8.

Like many children, I spent my youth dreaming of my future career. At first, I wanted to be an Egyptologist, then a fashion designer, then a journalist. In my mind, it never mattered that I did not like deserts or could not sketch — everything was a possibility. But then, in junior high, I learned about the gender pay gap and that women earn, on average, only a fraction of what men make in the same job. As a woman of color, I would probably earn an even smaller fraction.

After this realization, every time I would imagine my future career, I would remember the pay gap, and I could not help but wonder if one day I would have a job in which I was paid less than my male colleagues just because I’m a woman.

I soon learned that pay equity laws were weak and that if I was in that situation, it would be extremely difficult to remedy. I wondered how I could live my life knowing that inequalities like that existed. How could I have a career and just ignore that reality? No matter how much I tried to shake it, my knowledge about the pay gap would always be there haunting me.

I realized that I would have to dedicate my life to changing things. If the policies and protections were weak, I would have to fight for them myself. I recognized that if I wanted equality, I would have to spend my life fighting for it full time, and that is exactly what I have done and what I plan to continue doing.

Now, as a junior in college who is contemplating graduate school and my future career, I am more dedicated to this mission than ever. To commemorate and teach others about Equal Pay Day — the symbolic day when women’s salaries caught up to what men made in 2011 — and the importance of pay equity, I organized an April 17 screening of the documentary Miss Representation and distributed fliers about the pay gap.

Too many generations of women have had to endure this discrimination. It must stop. The world will not change if there aren’t people out there fighting to make a difference. That is what AAUW, its members, and I are dedicated to doing, both for us and for future generations of women.

This post was written by National Student Advisory Council member Samantha Abril.

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