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Posts Tagged ‘The Simple Truth’

Hanna Rosin’s new book, The End of Men, came out yesterday. While I haven’t yet read it, I saw her recent New York Times Magazine cover story and watched a couple of her Daily Beast videos. Rosin’s overall message is that today’s economy favors women over men. While the three Alabama wives Rosin follows in the New York Times Magazine story happen to earn more than their husbands, that situation doesn’t reflect most American women’s experiences.

Today — one day after the release of Rosin’s book — the U.S. Census Bureau released new data that show that in 2011, a typical woman working full time, year-round earned 77 cents for every dollar a typical man earned — the same gap reported for 2010. One might hypothesize, then, that the phenomenon Rosin describes can be explained by the fact that more men than women are unemployed. But as of July, the unemployment rate for men was only slightly higher, at 8.4 percent, than the 8.1 percent unemployment rate for women.

The women Rosin describes are especially unusual among Alabama residents since it is one of the worst states in the country for gender pay equity. As shown in AAUW’s one-stop guide, The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap, Alabama ranked 40th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of equal pay in 2010. The Simple Truth’s state-by-state rankings will be updated to reflect the 2011 numbers when the Census Bureau releases the state data later this month.

Let’s take a closer look at the facts reported by the Census Bureau earlier today.

In the United States in 2011,

  • Median annual earnings for women working full-time, year-round were $37,118, compared with $48,202 for men;
  • 14.6 percent of women were living in poverty, compared with 10.9 percent of men; and
  • more than 7.8 million women lived in extreme poverty, which is defined as income at or below 50 percent of the poverty level, compared with 5.3 million men.

As these statistics make clear, even in 2011, women continued to earn less than men and experienced higher rates of poverty.

I guess what’s most troublesome about Rosin’s message is that it suggests that if women succeed in the labor force, that will spell the end of men. Women are far from out-earning men, and it’s much more common for a man to earn more than his wife than the opposite. Yet articles like Rosin’s suggest that women are displacing men. At AAUW, we’re not looking to engage in a battle of the sexes. Our goal is for men and women to be equally capable of achieving economic security for themselves and their families. In 2011, women earned just 77 percent of what men earned. We’ve still got a long way to go.

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Although women are now entering higher education in larger numbers than men and represent the breadwinners or co-breadwinners in a majority of families, pay equity is still not an issue that we can cross off the agenda. According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2010 median weekly earnings for women working full time was $669, while men in full-time positions earned $824. Over the course of a year, that adds up to a difference of almost $8,000. While the figures vary depending on education level and other factors, the bottom line is that women still aren’t making equal pay for equal work.

There are legislative means for achieving progress in pay equity. The Paycheck Fairness Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives in the 111th Congress and fell only two votes short of overcoming a procedural hurdle in the Senate. The Senate is considering the bill again, and AAUW is gearing up to fight for its passage. You can help by reaching out to your senator and urging her or him to co-sponsor the bill (S. 797).

The issue has also been front and center in the media. Rachel Maddow argued recently on Meet the Press that those who think the pay gap is a myth have a different “factual understanding of the world.” Part of that understanding is that women should be paid equally for performing the same work as men. AAUW Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Lisa Maatz spoke out on CNN, which aired a fact-checking segment on the clash between Maddow and Republican strategist Alex Castellanos in an effort to dispel confusion about the matter.

AAUW has long fought to end wage discrimination and to close the persistent wage gap that affects women of all ages, races, and education levels, regardless of their family decisions. Recent AAUW research uses concrete, state-by-state data to show that sex discrimination not only continues to be a problem in the workplace but also affects the incomes of all women. It’s time to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and make progress toward ending gender pay discrimination.

This post was written by AAUW Public Policy and Government Relations Intern Madeline Shepherd.

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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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“Hafa Adai, hello, welcome to Guam!” was the enthusiastic greeting I received as AAUW of Guam members proudly displayed their sparkling new banner.

Part of the AAUW Board of Directors’ outreach to members, my visit was initiated by a warm invitation from AAUW of Guam President Rebecca Stephenson. She pointed out the merits of a long overdue site visit to this island in Micronesia, the westernmost U.S. territory where “America’s day begins.” Indeed, Guam is 3,500 miles west of Hawaii, where my trip began, and approximately 2,000 miles from the Philippines, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and China, which are among some of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Guam’s strategic potential cannot be overstated. Against a backdrop of uncertainty about U.S. military buildup and the increasing migration of other Micronesians into Guam are the problems of poverty, homelessness, family violence, bullying in schools, alcoholism, and suicide — not unlike issues found in other U.S. cities and states.

Branch leaders meticulously filled my three-day itinerary with TV and radio interviews; a presentation to students at Guam Community College and the University of Guam; tours of both campuses and meetings with women faculty; a discussion with the speaker of the Guam Legislature and women senators regarding AAUW’s research and its relevance to issues facing women and families in Guam; introductions to the governor, lieutenant governor, and local and foreign dignitaries; and meetings with AAUW members and supporters.

With each encounter, I noted the high respect among island leaders for AAUW’s focus on education, research, and fellowships and grants. At each event, we discussed AAUW’s role as an advocate for accessible, affordable education; the need for higher education as preparation for economic self-sufficiency and leadership development; and applications for AAUW’s research toward Guam priorities. The data in Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math; Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School; and The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap reports was particularly effective.

I also noted the high esteem with which AAUW of Guam members are regarded. They have supported their two higher education institutions, awarded annual scholarships, initiated cultural preservation projects, built homes for people on marginal subsistence, and helped facilitate access to health care and social services. Branch members maintain regular communication with Guam senators, other island leaders, and with the media.

AAUW of Guam’s prestigious position with the international Federation of Asia-Pacific Women’s Associations affords the branch strong credibility, access to circles of influence, and avenues for action. Within FAWA, AAUW of Guam works to build women’s leadership so that women can effect the changes needed for their continuing advancement in the Asia-Pacific region.

My memorable visit with these outstanding leaders from AAUW of Guam strengthened my appreciation for the diversity of talent among all our branches and the different ways in which we enact AAUW’s mission according to conditions in our communities. We celebrate the differences among our members and are strengthened by our common goals — after all, we are united in our one world.

Si Yu’os Ma’ase, thank you to our colleagues in Guam for your steadfast commitment to AAUW’s work in Micronesia and the Asia-Pacific region.

This post was written by AAUW Vice President and Director-at-Large Patricia Fae Ho.

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AAUW member Nancy Jones

AAUW member Nancy Jones

AAUW member Nancy Jones brought the gender pay gap into Virginia residents’ living rooms. Next up, she’s bringing the issue to their universities.

Jones, a 10-year member of the AAUW Portsmouth (VA) Branch, dove into AAUW’s pay equity data when she became her branch’s public policy chair two years ago. Last year’s Equal Pay Day efforts included two letters to the editor. This year, Jones wanted to be more proactive, and she wanted reach.

She found the statistics on African American women’s lagging pay so appalling that she sought to showcase the data through a program on her local public television station, WHRO-TV. The program, called Another View, highlights issues that affect the Hampton Roads, Virginia, African American community.

“It just occurred to me that it would be a good format for talking about the pay gap because it’s an issue that’s even more important for black women,” Jones says. “There’s such greater discrepancy.”

According to AAUW’s The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap, white women’s weekly median earnings in 2010 were 80 percent of what white men earned.

Jones pitched the pay equity idea to the program’s host, Barbara Hamm Lee, at a dinner earlier this year. Hamm Lee began the episode, which aired March 18, by thanking Jones.

Jones says her favorite part of the program, which featured two Old Dominion University professors, was the attention it drew to the fact that the pay gap can begin immediately if women don’t negotiate.

“It’s also important to realize that it’s never a done deal,” Jones says. “You still have opportunities to negotiate. Just because you started out on the lower end of the pay scale doesn’t mean that you’ll have to stay there forever.”

Tomorrow, on Equal Pay Day, Jones’ branch will set up a table at the Portsmouth campus of Tidewater Community College. They plan to give out popcorn — more to men than women to help them understand the gap — and make a poster so that women can write down what they would do with the extra money if they were paid fairly.

Jones will also participate in training tomorrow to learn how to lead a $tart $mart salary negotiation workshop, a campus program that AAUW offers in partnership with the WAGE Project. The training will be paired with a workshop that teaches Old Dominion students wage gap facts and salary negotiation skills. Jones and another Portsmouth branch member will be trained so that they can host future workshops, likely starting in the fall.

Jones retired nine years ago and says pay equity wasn’t an issue for her, but the statistics — and her two granddaughters — were more than enough for her to make Equal Pay Day a top priority. What are you doing tomorrow to make a difference?

This post was written by AAUW Communications Fellow Elizabeth Owens.

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