Who needs the fiscal cliff stress we’ve been getting starting out the new year? Mika Bzrezinski slammed Congress and President, says women negotiators would solve fiscal cliff. I tend to agree. But, meanwhile we have a brave new year to embrace to the full.
One of my favorite leadership coaches for women (or fem-evangelist as she describes herself), Ann Daly, asked me and a number of my women’s advocate sheroes to tell her their wishes for women in 2013. Then she was kind enough to allow me to repost the results, the original of which appeared on Ann’s blog on New Year’s Day.
Please share: what are your wishes for women in 2013?
Happy New Year! At this time of renewal, I’m reflecting on what we can achieve together as women. And how we can help each other as women. So I asked my favorite women’s advocates, “What do you wish for women in 2013?” What would you add to the list?
Several decades ago, my cousin Chris gave me the following advice: “Remember to laugh out loud and make your own luck.” I have often marveled at just how challenging that is to do, but every day I strive to do both.
CEO and Founder, 85 Broads
I wish for women the collective will to hold elected officials’ feet to the fire on issues that really matter to us. After this election, it’s clear that women’s votes brought them into this world, and that women voters can also kick them out!
Director of Public Policy & Government Relations, American Association of University Women
My wish for women in 2013 is that we grab some confidence, get out there, and do something we’ve been dreaming about but are scared of. I did this in 2012 and it catapulted me into a completely different, exhilarating world I’d never imagined I would know. One step into the unknown and untried can be like a clarifying plunge into a cold pool. You realize you can swim, after all. Ignore the voice in your head that says, ‘Who do you think you are to try this?’ The more new things you tackle, the more your world expands. You begin to realize just how much you’re capable of.
Host, The Broad Experience
I wish that in 2013 women lawyers have real opportunities to advance and succeed and we see more women making equity partners and assuming positions of real power and influence.
Chair, American Bar Association Gender Equity Task Force
My wish for women in 2013? Determination to reach their goals, success to keep them eager and challenges to keep them strong.
Founder, Empowering Women as Leaders
I hope that 2013 brings safe and secure schools for girls from the developing world in their quest for learning. As girls learn, stability and peace will result.
Author, How Remarkable Women Lead
I wish for all working moms to have the flexibility they need to be the best employee, best mom and best partner they can be. Let’s get rid of useless stress!
Editorial Director, Working Mother Magazine
More gains in politics, business and civil rights.
Host, To The Contrary
The study, which I covered briefly in an earlier column attempts to single out factors that may contribute to the wage gap (including the number of hours worked and the college major chosen).
It turns out that even after AAUW factored in choices that may have affected women’s pay, women still earn seven percent less than men counterparts one year after college. This, in turn, affects their financial ‘health’ for the rest of their lives. I spoke to Catherine Hill, the director of research for AAUW, about the study and the wage gap and this ever-present seven percent:
Maegan Vazquez: What are the main findings of the report?
Catherine Hill: There are three main findings from this report. First, the pay gap between men and women begins right after graduations. That gap is partly explained by differences in men’s and women’s choices, but even after controlling for all of the factors known to affect earnings, a pay gap remains, just one year after graduation.
The second finding of the report is that the pay gap is not just a matter of different choices—women who map the same choice as men will not earn as much. Some part of the pay gap is a result of choices, but not all of it.
The third finding is that, because of this pay gap, female college graduates are more likely to find that student loan payments take up more than 15 percent of their paychecks after graduation. the impact of the pay gap is immediate and significant.
MV: What makes this report so different from other wage gap studies?
CH: Our study is unusual in that it focus on a population that is fairly homogeneous: college graduates in the first year after graduations. This group tends to be young (23 on average) and have not yet started families. We do a regression analysis to try to account for all factors that affect earnings, getting as close to an apple to apple comparison as possible.
MV: What’s the most surprising thing researchers found in this study?
CH: It is surprising to me that the pay gap begins right out of college, even among men and women majoring in the same field.
MV: Can you tell me a little bit more about what the unaccounted seven percent gap is comprised of?
CH: The seven percent gap is the remainder after accounting for many factors known to affect earnings. It is actually a 6.6 percent gap and we rounded the number to 7. Negotiation is often thought to explain some of the unexplained part of the gap. Attitudes and bias may also play a part.
MV: How do we remedy the gap? Has there been/will there be progress to shorten the gap?
CH: The paycheck fairness act could go along way toward ending discrimination in the workplace.
There you have it: even after an apples to apples comparison, women are earning less than men. Now that we have more information to back claims made for the past 20 years, we have even more reason to take action.
Check out the fair pay flash mob on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial:
Arkansas State Senator Paul Van Dalsem got a roaring laugh in 1963 at the then all-male Optimist Club when he railed at women from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) who were lobbying to improve educational opportunities. He said his home county’s solution would be to get an uppity woman an extra milk cow. “And if that’s not enough, we get her pregnant and keep her barefoot.”
Red happens to be my favorite color. I’m an Aries after all. A classic one according to my sister (maybe that wasn’t meant as a compliment? Pioneering, passionate courageous, dynamic they say, but also selfish, impulsive, impatient, foolhardy.). Even my planet, Mars, named for the god of war, is red.
So I laughed when tweets from AAUW and National Women’s Law Center (NLRC), two organizations that have been pushing for the Paycheck Fairness Act and have declared this Blogging for Fair Pay Day, told me to wear red today.
No problem. I’ll just close my eyes and pull something out of my closet. It’ll more than likely be red.
There are many fabulous people blogging today about the fact that women make on average 78 cents to every $1 earned by a man, and women of color earn even less: African-American women earn 62¢, Latinas earn 53¢ for $1 earned by white, non-Hispanic men. NLRC can tell you how the comparison shakes down in your state.
Rather than write a long diatribe, I want to link Heartfeldt readers to some sources I’ve found particularly compelling or useful.
I’ve often said that equal pay should be considered part of the stimulus package. Liz O’Donnell’s op ed in the Tucson Citizen explains how the economics work:
It doesn’t take an economist to understand that when American families are struggling, consumer spending goes down. And consumer spending accounts for approximately 70 percent of total economic activity. Even the best laid stimulus plan is at risk unless we right the gender inequities in the workplace.
Closing the wage gap and promoting women in the workplace has to be part of the package if we are going to revive our economy.
If you twitter, you can go here to read all the #fairpay tweets.
And Change.org gives you all the goods on the history of women’s pay progress–and there has been much progress, thanks to much hard work by women and men who have a sense of fairness and equality.
But still, good grief, what makes me really see red is that in 2009, we are still fighting to pass a piece of legislation, the Paycheck Fairness Act (S.182), that is nothing more than simple justice, and asks companies to do nothing more than to be fair to all employees regardless of gender.
So right now, while you are all hot and bothered about it, go here to send a message to your senator, or call him/her at 202-224-3121 and voice your support for the Paycheck Fairness Act. The bill has already passed the house, so we’re within shouting distance (hey, maybe Arlen Specter’s defection to the Democratic party today will put them over the top!)
Wearing red to highlight the need for equal pay shouldn’t be necessary. Equal pay should just BE. But till it is, please see red and be red with passion for equal pay.
Let’s see, which of my 10 red tops shall I wear tomorrow?
That’s about what the average woman loses over a career lifetime due to gender inequities in pay for the same jobs as men.
So click here to Speak Up and demand the Senate pass two crucial pieces of legislation so that Barack Obama can sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act, as he has said he would do. In a historic vote, the House of Representatives on Friday passed both bills by substantial margins, largely along party lines. A Senate vote could come as early as this week.
No, these bills aren’t another financial bailout for ailing industries that don’t deserve them. They’re not a get-rich-quick scheme from late night television infomercial-land. Nor are they part of the badly needed but very expensive stimulus package—but they should be. Here’s why:
* Women may lose $434,000 in income, on average, due to the career wage gap.
* Women at all education levels lose significant amounts of income due to the career wage gap, but women with a college degree or higher lose $713,000 over a 40-year period versus a $270,000 loss for women who did not finish high school.
* Women in all occupations suffer from the career wage gap.
* The gap exceeds $300,000 in 15 states, $400,000 in 22 states, and $500,000 in 11 states.
These shocking findings come from the Center for American Progress study, “Lifetime Losses: The Career Wage Gap”, which analyzed the 40-year impact of the gender wage gap in all 50 states, using 10-year age groups of women and men aged 25-64.
If you’re an unmarried woman, the disparity is even greater. While women overall earn 78 cents to a man’s dollar, unmarried women earn just 56 cents, according to Women’s Voices, Women Vote. No surprise then that unmarried women are more likely to file for bankruptcy, live in poverty along with their children, and be hurt more by our current economic crisis.
Why are two pieces of legislation needed?
Lisa M. Maatz, American Association of University Women’s director of public policy and government relations, explains: “The tandem of both bills is critical, because the Ledbetter bill restores lost ground, while the Paycheck Fairness Act actually gives more teeth to the law and will provide better technical assistance and incentives to employers to follow the law in the first place.”
AAUW has mounted a “Keep the Change” campaign, said Executive Director Linda D. Hallman, because the paltry 1 cent (from 77 to 78 cents on the dollar earned by men) increase from 2006 to 2007 is “chump change, not real change.”
Some Republicans argued that the legislation would be an earmark for trial lawyers. But here’s what the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay bill’s namesake says about why it’s needed, in a letter she wrote to Congress:
Thirty years ago, Goodyear hired me to work as supervisor in their tire plant in Gadsden, AL. I sometimes wondered how my pay compared to my colleagues, but there was no way to know for sure because pay levels were kept strictly confidential.
Thanks to an anonymous tip I received shortly before my retirement, I finally got some hard evidence of real pay discrimination. I filed a complaint without delay, and at the trial, the jury found that Goodyear had discriminated against me in violation of Title VII. The jury awarded me more than $3 million in back pay and punitive damages.
Unfortunately, that good moment didn’t last long. First, because of damages caps in Title VII, the trial judge was forced to reduce that award to $300,000 — a mere ten percent of what the jury had awarded me and hardly more than a slap on the wrist to a company the size of Goodyear.
Then, in 2007, my case reached the U.S. Supreme Court. In a disappointing 5-4 ruling , the justices took away the entire award, including the 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.
Ledbetter still didn’t give up. She says that now she’s fighting for all the other women and girls who deserve equal pay for equal work.
It’s powerfully symbolic that the first two bills passed by the 111th Congress concerned fair pay for women. Women held the key to the 2008 elections, a fact not unnoticed in Washington’s “art of the possible” culture, to quote the late great Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill. The current Speaker, Nancy Pelosi told the New York Times, “This Congress has heard the message of change in the election.”
These bills clearly represent a stiletto boot on George W. Bush’s behind as he exits: he had promised to veto the legislation had it reached his desk. Lilly Ledbetter and the large coalition of women’s organizations that worked diligently, building the support for paycheck fairness through the difficult Bush years, hope Obama’s first act will be to sign these bills.
In the department of courageous acts, it’s always up to voters to make easy for politicians to do the right thing, and difficult for them not to.
By her courage to act, Ledbetter ignited the movement for paycheck fairness that propelled both bills to victory.
So what are you waiting for, Ladies? Act now. You have a half-million at stake. Send your message to your Senators now.
Thanks to People for the American Way for this video summary of Lilly Ledbetter’s story.
Update on Thursday, January 15, 2009 at 02:18PM
1/15 Senate successfully votes to vote on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay act. (Senate rules reqire 60 votes to bring legislation to the floor. That’s why it is called a test vote in the press release below. This is good news, as the margin was very comfortable, even without the addition of the probably two additional Democratic senators, Burris and Franken.)
AAUW press release excerpt:
WASHINGTON – AAUW applauds the Senate for today’s positive, bipartisan test vote (72-23) on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (S. 181), the bill named for the Alabama grandmother who has become the national face of pay equity. AAUW urges the Senate to move quickly to final passage of the measure and to act swiftly to pass additional pay equity legislation.
Last week, with the passage of both the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (H.R. 11) and the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 12), U.S. House of Representatives sent a clear message that pay discrimination will not be tolerated and demonstrated a firm, bipartisan resolve to attack such discrimination on all fronts.
“While we strongly support the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, our members are clearly disappointed that the Senate hasn’t taken action on the Paycheck Fairness Act, too,” said AAUW Executive Director Linda D. Hallman, CAE. “Passing the Ledbetter bill is only a down payment on an election year promise to address pay equity vigorously.”