8 Awesome Ways We Pushed for Equal Pay

April 24, 2015

On Tuesday, April 14, AAUW “celebrated” Equal Pay Day, the symbolic day when women’s earnings finally catch up to men’s earnings from the previous year. We know that gender pay discrimination isn’t a myth; it’s math. And the wage gap isn’t just a number. It represents families scrambling to pay for food, gas, housing, education, and child care.

While AAUW works on pay equity year-round, Equal Pay Day continues to be a day of national action. Our members and supporters held more than 150 events across the country to educate our communities and send a message to our elected officials.

This Equal Pay Day, here are just eight of the ways AAUW staff, members, and supporters took action to close the pay gap once and for all.

1. Rallied at state capitols

Lisa Maatz speaking at a podium

AAUW’s Lisa Maatz joined other Paycheck Fairness Act supporters at the U.S. Capitol.

If we want to see pay equity sooner than 100 years from now, we need action from elected officials. AAUW Vice President of Government Relations Lisa Maatz joined equal pay allies and elected officials at the U.S. Capitol, where she helped lead the call for passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act. The AAUW Action Fund Capitol Hill Lobby Corps lobbied the Senate on paycheck fairness, visiting more than 50 offices. And AAUW supporters in Delaware, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Dakota, and Texas visited their state capitols to encourage their officials to take action.

2. Mobilized college students

Students held an AAUW Equal Pay Day event on their campus in Colorado.

Students held an AAUW Equal Pay Day event on their campus in Colorado.

The gender pay gap starts to affect women just one year after college graduation, and it only gets worse from there. This Equal Pay Day, AAUW college and university partner members held events at 50 campuses across the country, including panel discussions, issue forums, AAUW $tart $mart salary negotiation workshops, and more.

3. Took the fight to the streets

AAUW joined the PowHer New York movement for equal pay

AAUW joined the PowHer New York movement for equal pay.

In cities and communities across the country, AAUW supporters took to the streets to push for equal pay legislation, donning red to symbolize that women are still “in the red” because of the pay gap. In Chicago, AAUW supporters rallied at Daley Plaza. In New York, we joined PowHer New York to call for swift passage of the state’s Equal Pay Bill. We had big wins in Nevada, where the state senate unanimously passed an equal pay bill, and in Phoenix, where the city council passed a bill to ensure that city contractors are paying their employees.

4. Sweetened the day with candy

payday bars; equal pay; candy

Who says feminists aren’t funny? In California, AAUW supporters handed out PayDay candy bars to passersby and talked to them about the gender pay gap. In North Dakota, AAUW supporters gifted the treats to state legislators, adding some sweetness to an otherwise bitter day. Not to mention our dozens of equal pay-themed bake sales at campuses and community centers across the country, some of which offered a 22-cent discount to women. After all, everyone wants the whole cookie, not just 78 percent!

5. Celebrated fair pay champion Lilly Ledbetter

Equal Pay Day; (un)happy hour

At the AAUW national office, we wrote Lilly Ledbetter a birthday card on Equal Pay Day.

Coincidentally, Equal Pay Day 2015 fell on fair pay champion Lilly Ledbetter’s birthday. Lilly brought her pay discrimination case to the Supreme Court and to Congress, and her story spurred on the movement for equal pay. With your help, we honored both Lilly’s birthday and Equal Pay Day by sending more than 17,000 messages to Congress urging action on the Paycheck Fairness Act.

6. Encouraged governments to officially proclaim Equal Pay Day

AAUW members visited state capitols to urge their representatives to support paycheck fairness.

AAUW members visited state capitols to urge their representatives to support paycheck fairness.

At AAUW’s request, a number of local governments proclaimed April 14 Equal Pay Day, including Oklahoma and Virginia, Milwaukee, San Francisco, and Tahlequah, Oklahoma. “We should already be at a point where we are dollar for dollar,” said San Francisco Board of Supervisors President London Breed, who sponsored the city’s Equal Pay Day resolution. “We have a long way to go.”

7. Organized equal pay advocates at (un)happy hours across the country

At the (un)happy hour at AAUW's D.C. office, attendees posed with an Instagram cutout poster.

At the (un)happy hour at AAUW’s D.C. office, attendees posed with an Instagram cutout poster.

AAUW supporters held (un)happy hours in Idaho, New York, Texas, Florida, and Wisconsin. AAUW’s national office also pulled out all the stops at our (un)happy hour in Washington, D.C, where we enjoyed wallet-friendly snacks and beverages while signing petitions and rallying hard for equal pay!

8. Made nationwide headlines and trended on Twitter

Nancy Pelosi tweet AAUW

AAUW branches across the country placed op-eds and letters to the editor in their community papers, and AAUW earned coverage in the Huffington Post, Washington Post, CNN Money, Mashable, Fast Company, and more. AAUW CEO Linda D. Hallman penned an op-ed with Gap Inc. Executive Vice President Sonia Syngal urging employers to follow Gap’s example in ensuring equal pay for equal work. And it didn’t stop there. With your help, social media was abuzz on Equal Pay Day! #EqualPayNow trended on Twitter in the nation’s capital, drawing responses from big names like Patricia Arquette, Valerie Jarrett, Lilly Ledbetter, and President Barack Obama.

We’re creating a new wave of organizing for equal pay. But there was one group that didn’t take action this Equal Pay Day: Congress.

All over the country, at the state and city levels, the demand for equal pay is growing. But significant progress isn’t being made because current law simply isn’t strong enough. It’s time Congress heeded the call of its constituents and passed the Paycheck Fairness Act. One hundred twenty-four years is too long to wait for equal pay. Ask your Members of Congress to co-sponsor the Paycheck Fairness Act today!

Did you take part in an event for Equal Pay Day on behalf of AAUW? Be sure to tell us all about it.

Renee Davidson By:   |   April 24, 2015

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