Are College Women Thinking about Their Future Paychecks?

April 13, 2012

College women probably don’t give much thought to the paychecks they’ll earn after graduation.

That’s not to say they don’t want to get paid or that they don’t want to make good money — they do. Who doesn’t want to earn a salary equal to what her work is worth? But what probably isn’t on most students’ radars, however, is how their paychecks will stack up against what their male classmates earn.

At this year’s National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) — May 31–June 2 at the University of Maryland, College Park — we intend to put paycheck fairness on college women’s radars. And who better to highlight this critical issue than Lilly Ledbetter, the face of pay equity, who will be one of the keynote speakers at the conference.

After finding out that Goodyear shortchanged her for nearly two decades by paying her less than her male colleagues, Ledbetter took her fight all the way to the chambers of the U.S. Supreme Court and then into the halls of Congress. She eventually became the namesake for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This inspiring story of perseverance and the pursuit of fairness will fit right in at a conference that encourages women student leaders to never settle for less than what they are worth.

Lilly Ledbetter

But we’re not the only ones who think that paycheck fairness is an issue worth talking about. In his 2012 State of the Union address, President Obama focused public attention on pay discrepancies between men and women. His remarks fly in the face of recent sunshine-and-rainbows reports that hail the end of gender-based pay discrimination. But we know that the wage gap is alive and well. According to AAUW’s 2007 report Behind the Pay Gap, just one year after college graduation, women earned only 80 percent of what their male counterparts made. Ten years later, women fell further behind, earning only 69 percent of what men earned. AAUW’s 2012 guide The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap tells a similar story with updated, state-by-state data.

If that doesn’t get college women thinking about their future paychecks, what will? Perhaps an opportunity to meet Ledbetter, who puts a face to these facts.

Check out Ledbetter’s new book, Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond, to find out more about her battles for fair pay. Or hold out until the conference, where she will be signing books.

NCCWSL registration is open until May 16. Early-bird registration ends today, April 13. Students, register now!

Jennifer Steenberg By:   |   April 13, 2012

1 Comment

  1. College Student Matt says:

    No doubt there is a pay gap out there. I don’t agree with it. I don’t know what to do about it. I think there are a lot of factors into it. I do think that an employee, if they are doing a good job at his or her work, should be paid the same as others who are doing that job, regarless of gender.

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