Confessions of a $tart $mart FacilitatorApril 05, 2012
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.