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How Does Race Affect the Gender Wage Gap?

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Race and ethnicity have always created a dividing line in the United States, and it’s no different with the gender pay gap. Read more »

Blog   |   Economic Justice   |   63 Comments   |   April 03, 2014
Five women who told their pay gap stories for the fight for fair pay series.

7 Women Shortchanged: Personal Stories of the Gender Pay Gap

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The damage done by the thousands of dollars I lost to the gender pay gap sticks with me today, despite leaving that employer long ago. My retirement fund isn’t as robust, and I took out more in graduate student loans than I would have if I’d been paid fairly. I’ve been shortchanged by the gender pay gap — and I’m far from alone.

I know this from statistics — the pay gap costs a typical woman at least $400,000 over the course of her career — and because of women who bravely share their stories of unfair pay in hopes of creating change ahead. Here are seven of these women’s stories.

The Design Supervisor Who Made Less than the Employees She Managed

Kerri Sleeman worked for five years at a company that designed, built, and installed laser welding assembly systems. When she was hired, Sleeman said company officials told her they didn’t negotiate pay. In 2003, the company was forced into bankruptcy and employees had to go through bankruptcy court for their final paychecks. When Sleeman looked at the court’s list of claims, she was heartbroken. People she had supervised had larger claims for two weeks of pay than she did.


The Engineer Who Lost More than $1 Million in Earnings

Cheryl Hughes was a divorced mother of two when she began to pursue an engineering degree in 1982. She dealt with an overwhelming male majority in the field and found a balance between motherhood and being a student, but she couldn’t overcome pay inequity. Hughes said she lost more than $1 million in earnings throughout her career as an engineer because she is an African American woman.


The Educator Whose Pay Was Determined by Both Her Gender and Marital Status

When Maxine Lampe started her career as a teacher in the early 1970s, the school district refused to give her the head-of-household pay that men received — even though Lampe was the sole earner while her husband was in graduate school. Later, Lampe went into public school administration and found once again that her gender — and marital status — was a factor in her pay. While trying to negotiate her salary, one of the board members told her, “You don’t need as much pay because your husband is a professor and you have enough money.”


The Future Law Student Told to Give Up Her Dream

Reshma Daniel’s parents moved to America from India with just $20. Her parents wanted their children to live the American dream. For Daniel, that means law school. While at Nova Southeastern University in Florida, she majored in legal studies and job shadowed a family lawyer. Following a pretrial hearing, another lawyer, a Vietnamese woman, told Daniel that she should not become a lawyer. “She was like, ‘You won’t get paid. As a woman and of color, you’re going to be underpaid, so there’s really no point,’” Daniel recalled.


The Graduate Student and Former Technician Who Didn’t Realize You Could Negotiate


Anastasia Engebretson accepted the salary offered to her in her first job out of college. She didn’t know she could negotiate. She found when she arrived for work as a technician that a few men with less education and less relevant experience had negotiated for more pay. “I have a bachelor’s degree in physics,” Engebretson said. “This guy who hadn’t gone to college and couldn’t do mental math was getting paid more.”


The Lab Technician Who Stood Up against Pay Discrimination


Ellie Setser and her female colleagues in a research lab at a teaching hospital fought pay discrimination in the late 1970s. The technicians in Setser’s lab were all women with college degrees. They learned that a male head technician without a degree — working in a much smaller lab with less responsibility — earned a salary 1.5 times larger than the female head technician in Setser’s lab. The women banded together and called in anonymous complaints to a U.S. Department of Justice pay discrimination hotline. To their surprise, an investigation — and pay raises — followed.


The Math Consultant Fighting for a Woman’s Worth


Aileen Rizo works as a math consultant at a California county office that supports dozens of school districts. After three years on the job, she said she learned over lunch that a man just hired as a math consultant had started at a much higher salary. After trying unsuccessfully to work out the disparity with human resources, Rizo filed a lawsuit because of her two young daughters. “I don’t want another girl to feel after she’s worked so hard that she’s not worth the same as the man sitting next to her,” Rizo said.



"Would you like a 7% raise?" with cash on a serving tray.

Fight for Fair Pay

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The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap

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Hey! Why Are Women Paid Less than Men Are in My State?

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You may have noticed that the gender pay gap varies — in some cases dramatically — from state to state. But do you know why? Read more »

Blog   |   Economic Justice   |   10 Comments   |   March 26, 2014
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3 Reasons Why You Should Negotiate Your Salary

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Research shows I’m not the only woman who’s missed that opportunity to negotiate in my career. Read more »

Blog   |   Career and Workplace   |   4 Comments   |   March 20, 2014
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Gap in Coaches’ Salaries Guides NCAA Tournament Picks

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The 100-plus schools in the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments all pay coaches for men’s sports teams more — often much more — on average than coaches for women’s sports teams. How’s that for March madness? Read more »

Blog   |   Campus   |   5 Comments   |   March 18, 2014
President Barack Obama signs copies of his speech after delivering the 2014 State of the Union.

3 Reasons President Obama Needs to Act Now on the Gender Pay Gap

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An anti-retaliation executive order would protect federal employees who choose to talk about their salaries or ask about pay practices. It’s time for the president to act. Read more »

Blog   |   Advocacy   |   1 Comments   |   February 11, 2014
Lilly Ledbetter is flanked by eight U.S. senators. The gavel represents a hammer, referencing Ledbetter’s saying that “Giving women my Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act without the Paycheck Fairness Act is like giving them a nail without the hammer.”

Lilly Ledbetter Hasn’t Given Up on Fair Pay — and Neither Should We

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Lilly Ledbetter refuses to accept “that’s just the way it is” as a reaction to the gender pay gap. “I don’t back down anywhere,” she said recently. Read more »

Blog   |   Economic Justice   |   4 Comments   |   January 31, 2014
Barnard President Debora Spar stands smiling with Jamia Wilson.

Are Young Women Carrying the Mantle of Feminism?

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How is feminism different today? Do young women want to be feminists, or not? These are complicated questions, without easy answers. Because young women, of course, don’t speak with a single voice or share a common attitude. Some are quick to embrace the term feminist. Others despise it. Read more »

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Let’s Win the War on Poverty in Our Lifetime

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As we mark the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, here are three actions you can take right now to help secure a strong economic future for all women and families. Read more »

Blog   |   Advocacy   |   January 21, 2014
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“In a World”… New Comedy Turns Up Volume on Women Voice-Overs

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Lake Bell puts a comedic spin on a real issue by inserting her awkward humor into a very serious struggle to succeed in the male-dominated field of movie trailer narration. She is determined, even if that does mean imitating harsh accents of people she secretly records. Read more »

Blog   |   Career and Workplace   |   September 26, 2013