Tomorrow, we’ll learn from the U.S. Census Bureau if there’s been any change in the gender pay gap. Currently, the gap stands at 23 cents, which means that the average woman makes 77 cents for every dollar earned by the average man. It’s important to point out that the numbers are worse for African American and Latina women.
At AAUW, we are addressing the problem from various angles, from our public policy work to our programming. AAUW has offered $tart $mart salary negotiation workshops with the WAGE Project since 2009. We are helping to close the pay gap by arming young women — and some men — with real-world information about salary negotiation. In fact, we are holding a training today at Colby College in Maine, and we have four more sessions scheduled for September in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, and Colorado. To date, we have been to 176 campuses and served more than 7,000 students.
“I didn’t know about the wage gap before I took this workshop, but now I’ll try my best to get paid what I deserve to be paid.”
— $tart $mart participant, Mount San Jacinto College
That’s my hope for women across the country. The wage gap adds up. In a lifetime, the lost earnings can amount to $1 million. We must do all we can to get a fair salary in the first place. Additionally, we must push to strengthen equal pay laws to encourage workplace fairness. As one writer from The Crimson, Harvard University’s student newspaper, so aptly said, “That Harvard diploma may not be quite enough.” The article was about the 2007 AAUW report Behind the Pay Gap, which showed that just one year out of college, women working full time already earn 5 percent less than their male colleagues — even when they work in the same field with the same education and lifestyle factors. Ten years out of college, the gap grows to 12 percent. The wage gap is real, and as economist Heather Boushey points out, for too many women, it starts the minute they throw their graduation caps in the air.