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Posts Tagged ‘pay equity’

face_of_pay_equity_150x225My first job in Washington, D.C., was at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC). The first piece of legislation I worked on as a RAC legislative assistant in 2010 was the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that would make much-needed improvements to the Equal Pay Act, which was originally passed in 1963 to prohibit wage discrimination based on sex. As we enter the 50th anniversary year of this landmark legislation, it is important to acknowledge how far we’ve come — and how far we still have to go.

Back in fall 2010, the Fair Pay Coalition, led by AAUW, was gearing up for a Senate vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act. The bill had passed the House in January 2009 with a bipartisan majority, and President Obama had pledged to sign it if it came to his desk. At the RAC, I worked with the National Council of Jewish Women to mobilize the faith community in support of the Paycheck Fairness Act. We tripled the number of faith organizations that signed an interfaith letter to the Senate and brought these organizations into the Fair Pay Coalition (some of the groups continue to be active in the broader coalition today).

Unfortunately, a procedural motion to consider the Paycheck Fairness Act fell two votes short of the 60-vote threshold in the Senate. It was my first big legislative fight — and my first defeat. Yet as I looked around the AAUW boardroom during the coalition debrief a few weeks after the vote, I saw colleagues who had been fighting this fight for years, some for their entire careers. I realized that this issue extended far beyond the two months I had worked on it. The truth is, it goes back to 50 years ago, when the Equal Pay Act was first passed.

Today I am proud to work at AAUW, particularly now that we have entered the 50th anniversary year of the Equal Pay Act. AAUW continues to lead the fight for pay equity because even though we have made considerable progress in narrowing the wage gap in the last 50 years, we still have a ways to go. For the last decade, women working full time have typically earned 77 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earned. An 18-cent pay gap exists even when comparing the salaries of male and female graduates one year out of college. Wage discrimination affects the economic security of families today and affects women’s retirement security down the road. Moreover, pay equity is not only a women’s issue; it is a family issue, as women are increasingly the primary breadwinners in their households.

The 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act is a somewhat bittersweet occasion. On the one hand, we have much to celebrate about this landmark law, which predates the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the law typically thought of as the most significant piece of civil rights legislation. On the other hand, even the best laws need to be updated over time, and 50 years is too long without an update to the Equal Pay Act.

I look forward to building on this important work that I began at the RAC and continue to pursue at AAUW. The official 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act is June 10, 2013, but let’s begin talking about pay equity now and keep it up for the rest of the year. Someday soon I hope to sit at the AAUW boardroom table again and see my colleagues with smiles on their faces because of a pay equity victory — and I better not have to wait another 50 years for that to happen.

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’s own Lisa Maatz. Register today so you don’t miss out!

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face_of_pay_equity_150x225The new year may be right around the corner, but it will take an extra four months for women’s earnings to catch up to men’s earnings from the year before. The symbolic day when women’s earnings finally make up the 23 percent difference is known as Equal Pay Day. As usual, AAUW will host special events and distribute resources to help celebrate the work that has been done and that still needs to be done to ensure women receive equal pay for equal work.

It is never too early to start preparing for Equal Pay Day — April 9, 2013. This year will be especially important, as 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act.

What will your state or branch do to observe Equal Pay Day? AAUW has updated our Pay Equity Resource Kit with suggested ideas for action, facts and figures about pay equity, the latest AAUW research, and step-by-step instructions for planning activities. Here is just a sampling of what the resource kit can help you accomplish:

  • Organize reading and discussion sessions. Lilly Ledbetter’s book, Grace and Grit, would make a great selection!
  • Issue a press release for Equal Pay Day. A sample press release is included in the resource kit.
  • Hold in-district meetings with your members of Congress. The resource kit walks you through the process of requesting a meeting, preparing for that meeting, and following up with members of Congress and their staff afterward.
  • Complete a workplace pay audit for your office, and encourage branch and state members to do the same.
  • Organize a petition to show that there is a high level of popular support for pay equity legislation.
  • Conduct a public information campaign. You can raise awareness about the need for legislation to end discrimination against women in the labor market.
  • Ask your members of Congress and state legislators to sign a fair pay pledge. The resource kit includes sample pledges.

Download the complete AAUW Pay Equity Resource Kit today to get started! You can also request pay equity stickers and other materials by e-mailing advocacy@aauw.org.

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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 9, I had the honor of hearing Lilly Ledbetter speak on my campus, St. Cloud State University. Ledbetter’s story is an inspiring one. After 19 years of working at Goodyear Tire and Rubber in Alabama as a production manager, a note was slipped into her mailbox revealing a startling pay gap between her and three male colleagues in the same position. Despite knowing that taking the corporation to court would be a long, uphill battle that would likely not lead to the compensation she was owed, she sued Goodyear. “It wasn’t about me anymore,” she said. “It was about my daughter, my granddaughter, and the women and families in this nation.” Her case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and in 2007, after nine years of fighting, she received the final verdict. She lost because of an unreasonably short statute of limitations that would have required her to file suit years before she even knew she was being paid unfairly.

But her story did not end there. Ledbetter became the namesake for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which was the first bill signed into law by President Obama in 2009. The bill righted the wrong of the Supreme Court decision by allowing the statute of limitations to reset with every discriminatory paycheck.

As I sat in the audience listening to this strong woman share her story, two things happened to me. First, I was humbled by how much women in the past have achieved to guarantee me certain rights. Second, I was inspired to do the same for future generations of women. I think that my generation often does not take the time to learn about the influential women in our country’s history. I feel that young women believe the struggles of the past are over, when in fact they are far from complete. Even today, women’s median earnings are still only 77 percent of men’s, which accounts for huge losses in income, retirement savings, and Social Security benefits over a lifetime of work. But Ledbetter’s speech appeared to raise students’ awareness. Through the question-and-answer session following the speech, you could hear people expressing their outrage at what happened to her and their demand to change what is still occurring today.

St. Cloud State University has been making great strides to bring inspiring programming to young women. At the SCSU Women’s Center, where I work, we strive to empower women, increase awareness, and develop programming to support those principles on our campus. Our mission statement speaks to these ideals: “With passion and purpose to end sexist oppression, the Women’s Center promotes a safe, inclusive, and engaged community through advocacy, education, alliance-building, and women’s leadership.”

My hope is that by bringing speakers like Ledbetter to campus, our generation will have a greater appreciation for past struggles and those who fought them. I also hope that when someone from my generation is faced with a situation where she has to decide whether to stand up for herself, she will think like Ledbetter: “I knew that the only choice I had was to stand up for myself and do what was right. I understood the risk I was taking. It would surely be the hardest fight of my life, and there were no guarantees I’d win. … But as I ruminated, I realized I had no other choice.”

This post was written by Bre Moulder, a St. Cloud State University sophomore majoring in political science and women’s studies. St. Cloud State University is an AAUW college/university partner member.

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

Now that fair pay is in the headlines again thanks to this week’s presidential debate, we decided to dig up footage from an April 11, 2011, panel discussion called New Voices for Pay Equity. AAUW invited industry leaders to come to Washington, D.C., to discuss the problem. One of the first questions posed after the presentation was, How do we get men to care?

Hear the responses from John Curtis, director of research and public policy at the American Association of University Professors, and San Diego State University Professor Bey-Ling Sha, who injected a bit of humor into the discussion.

Then be sure to download AAUW’s newest research on the topic next week. The new report, Graduating to a Pay Gap, is an update of sorts to the 2007 AAUW report Behind the Pay Gap, which found that just one year after college graduation, women are paid only 80 percent of what their male counterparts are paid. The new report will offer concrete steps on how to address this persistent problem, talk about its impact on women with college loans, and reveal the latest salary data for this population.

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Lilly Ledbetter delivers Keynote at NCCWSL 2012Feminism has always been criticized as being preoccupied with advancing the interests of white, educated, middle-class women. While most women’s groups now take action on everything from racism to marriage equality to social security, the rhetoric of equal pay has at least the potential to emphasize the paychecks of the mostly white women at the top — even though a pay gap clearly exists between men and women in nearly every line of work and at every educational level.

So it’s a good thing that the equal-pay movement has been reignited by a woman who can inspire and motivate people from all walks of life. Lilly Ledbetter worked her way up the ladder at Goodyear Tire and Rubber and risked everything to file a pay discrimination lawsuit after an anonymous note tipped her off that she was being paid 40 percent less than her male peers were. She was doing the same job and had earned a top performance award at the company.

Last week, Ledbetter shared her frustrating story with the nearly 600 students at the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders, and her message helped inspire these up-and-coming workers to fight for pay equity as they begin their careers.

The audience was moved by Ledbetter’s clear-cut case and the heart-wrenchingly unjust Supreme Court decision that followed it — which said she should have filed her pay discrimination suit 18 years before she even knew she was being paid unfairly. A jury trial had previously awarded her damages and back pay, but Ledbetter never received a dime.

In her keynote address, Ledbetter told the audience that she grew up in one of the poorest counties in Alabama. Even though she was a manager at Goodyear, she and her husband struggled to pay the bills; the wages she lost to discrimination would have made a huge difference in their lives. Now, in her work as an equal-pay advocate, Ledbetter speaks passionately about the drastic effects the pay gap has on families like hers. Often, she says, it determines “whether they can buy food, pay the mortgage, and keep healthy.”

Ledbetter is one of many women who have stood up against industry giants to fight lengthy, expensive legal battles for equity in their hourly wages. Her words inspired the college women in the audience to fight for their own and all working women’s pay equity.

In the question-and-answer session afterward, conference-goers said they were touched by Ledbetter’s story, and one even called her a “rock star.” When they asked what they could do to help others and themselves, Ledbetter had a simple answer: Stand up for yourself, stay informed, and vote.

She urged the students to learn how to negotiate their salaries, because “if you don’t start now, you’ll never catch up.” But she also stressed the need to stay informed about local and national wage laws and the voting records of politicians — especially on the Paycheck Fairness Act, a law that would close loopholes in the 1963 Equal Pay Act.

“If the Paycheck Fairness Act had been law back then, I would have known how much less I was getting paid,” Ledbetter said.

Often called the “face of pay equity,” Ledbetter does more than show the human impact of the pay gap’s national statistics — that women make, on average, just 77 cents for every dollar men earn (the average is even lower for black women and Latinas). Her story and others like it refute the myth that the only thing separating men’s and women’s wages is hard work. These stories also show how working women — young and old, with and without diplomas, of any ethnic background — can unite to fight for the pay equity we all deserve.

That unity is further embodied in Ledbetter’s continued advocacy, even though she can no longer benefit from the laws she’s advocating for. “I made a decision in 1998 to stand up for myself. … My journey since then has been for you. Since that ruling came down, my case was over. If I can say something today that will change you in the audience, my goal will have been met.”

After her speech, Ledbetter left with hundreds of new fans who, thanks to her trailblazing, are that much closer to having what the president described when he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law in 2009 — that is, to having no limits to their dreams.

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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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As Americans prepare for Mother’s Day this weekend, it’s time to think about how we can help moms better provide for themselves and their families. The economic health of most American families is dependent on working mothers, with 70 million women working outside the home. It’s critical that these moms have access to equal pay for equal work, equitable employment opportunities, and robust retirement security. AAUW works to promote these policies so that all moms can enjoy peace of mind and economic security.

One way to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work is to urge Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. This bill would update the 49-year-old Equal Pay Act and help close the wage gap by improving enforcement, closing loopholes, strengthening remedies for mistreated workers, and prohibiting retaliation against workers who inquire about employers’ wage practices or disclose their own wages. By passing this act, we can help all women move toward equal pay for equal work.

Another step we can take for moms is to encourage Congress to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. This bill would require employers to make reasonable accommodations to protect the health of pregnant workers, such as letting them carry bottles of water or take restroom breaks. This legislation clarifies that it is unlawful to discriminate against pregnant workers by forcing them out of their jobs unnecessarily or by denying them reasonable accommodations that would allow them to keep working and providing for their families.

We can also protect moms by ensuring that they’re secure when they get older. Women are more likely to suffer financial insecurity in their later years for many reasons. They earn less than men do even when they work in the same position (which is why we need the Paycheck Fairness Act), and many women work in jobs that pay less than traditionally “male” jobs do. Women also do not spend as much time in the workforce as men do, because more women than men take time off work to raise children, and women live longer than men on average and need more resources to support a longer lifespan.

AAUW is working to make sure that the voices of all women are heard. AAUW’s It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard campaign is making an unprecedented investment in turning out women voters. AAUW is educating, engaging, and registering millennial women voters across the country. Together, we’ll ensure that women understand what’s at stake in 2012 and know how to use their voices and their votes to influence the election!

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It’s the $tart $mart salary negotiation workshop attendees’ “aha!” moments that keep me coming back as a facilitator.

“I never knew that I could look up a job’s worth on the web!”

“I always thought that negotiation was a battle of wills that I could not win. I’m surprised to learn that it can be a calm discussion about mutual benefit for employer and employee.”

“Aha! It’s not about me. It’s about a job — and it has a fair-market value.”

$tart $mart, a collaboration between AAUW and the WAGE Project, is real-time, boots-on-the-ground empowerment of college women. The program teaches them solid compensation benchmarking and negotiation skills to close gender-based pay gaps — starting with their first jobs after graduation. Eyes aglow and mouths agape with new and surprising knowledge, workshop attendees renew my vigor for the fight for fair pay.

I became a certified $tart $mart facilitator at a training at the 2009 AAUW National Convention in St. Louis. After seeing the workshop’s content, I wished I’d learned those skills many years ago. Since then, I’ve transferred the negotiation skills to interpersonal relationships, business contract negotiations, and a car purchase. And I continue to assist with the $tart $mart initiative in Colorado, where we now have a cadre of 13 certified facilitators.

Early on, the Women’s Foundation of Colorado purchased a $tart $mart semester license for the University of Denver. Later, the AAUW student organization at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, bought a license for their campus. But a tough higher-education budget crunch precluded hosting $tart $mart workshops on most campuses in our state. The time came for out-of-the-box thinking.

After seeing the value of $tart $mart and wanting to train as many Colorado college women as possible, the AAUW of Colorado Board of Directors voted to purchase a three-year license for Metropolitan State College of Denver, one of Colorado’s seven AAUW college/university partner members. Under the deal we struck, Metro State serves as the centrally located host campus, and all students who attend Colorado colleges and universities are eligible to participate. We’re three semesters into our $tart $mart project, and we have taught women from several different campuses. Attendees have spread the word back home, which has prompted a few higher-education institutions to consider $tart $mart licenses for their own campuses — often with financial assistance from nearby AAUW branches.

As we approach Equal Pay Day on April 17, we as equity advocates may feel battle fatigue because the AAUW fight for equal pay has been a long one — in fact, it dates back to 1913, when AAUW researched gender-based pay disparities in the U.S. Civil Service. In 1922, AAUW called for a reclassification of the U.S. Civil Service and a repeal of salary restrictions in the Women’s Bureau. In 1955, we backed the first federal legislative proposal for pay equity — a bill introduced by Reps. Edith Green (D-OR) and Edith Rogers (R-MA) that required “equal pay for work of comparable value requiring comparable skills.” We then advocated for passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and a swath of state-level fair pay and wage transparency bills. We were instrumental in securing the 2009 passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which restored the spirit of U.S. pay discrimination laws after a wrongheaded 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision. And today, we continue to press for the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act to close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act.

Need to get your second wind? Get involved with the $tart $mart salary negotiation workshop initiative as a facilitator, campus recruiter, or funder. Let attendees’ “aha!” moments fire up your fervor for fair pay!

This post was written by AAUW Director-at-Large Amy Blackwell.

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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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