How We’re Pushing for Equal PayApril 20, 2016
The gender pay gap is not a myth; it’s math. On April 12, AAUW “celebrated” Equal Pay Day, the symbolic day when the earnings for women working full time, year-round finally catch up to men’s earnings from the previous year. The numbers are mostly worse when you break the gender pay gap down by race. This year, we’ll observe black women’s equal pay day in August, Native American women’s equal pay day in September, and Latina women’s equal pay day in November.
While AAUW works to close the gender pay gap year-round, Equal Pay Day remains a powerful moment for national action. This Equal Pay Day, our members and supporters held more than 200 events across the country to educate our communities and send a message to our elected officials. Check out how AAUW members and supporters have taken action to help close the pay gap once and for all.
1. Pushed for legislation
So far in 2016, 34 states have equal pay bills introduced or pending. This Equal Pay Day, we pushed to increase that number. In Pennsylvania, AAUW members rallied at the statehouse and delivered a petition urging lawmakers to take action on equal pay legislation. In Michigan, AAUW members spoke to state representatives about the gender pay gap and collected personal stories about how the pay gap affects women and families. AAUW of Massachusetts helped organize talks by Attorney General Maura Healey and Treasurer Deb Goldberg, and AAUW of Louisiana celebrated the state senate voting to move an instrumental equal pay bill forward to the House.
2. Empowered women to negotiate
Jennifer Lawrence knows what’s up — negotiating a salary can make a real difference in women’s earnings. That’s why we “celebrated” Equal Pay Day by teaming up college students, faculty, professional groups, and others to host dozens of AAUW salary negotiation workshops on campuses and within communities across the country. And it doesn’t stop there. We were proud to announce AAUW Work Smart in D.C., our second collaboration with a major U.S. city to train women to confidently and successfully negotiate salary and benefits. Find out how to bring an AAUW Start Smart or AAUW Work Smart salary negotiation workshop to students or working women in your community.
3. Mobilized college students
AAUW student organizations and college/university members rallied hard to help close the gender pay gap, an issue that affects women as soon as they enter the workforce. Inspired by the U.S. Treasury’s plans to put a woman on U.S. currency, the AAUW student organizations at the University of California, Los Angeles, and West Virginia University created interactive illustrations of what the $10 bill really looks like for women. The AAUW student organization at Purdue University hosted a Pay What You’re Paid pop-up shop, in which women were charged 75 percent of the price of art prints, based upon the gender pay gap in Indiana. Students from the AAUW student organization at Lock Haven University sweetened the day with a bake sale where treats were priced according to the gender pay gap by race, and the AAUW student organization at Madison University raised awareness with its I am the Face of Equal Pay campaign.
4. Put Equal Pay Day on the books
Not to be outdone by President Obama, AAUW members helped encourage their state and local officials to make Equal Pay Day official through proclamations. Thanks to members in Honolulu and Virginia, Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) signed state proclamations in honor of Equal Pay Day. In New York, the AAUW North Shore Long Island (NY) Branch organized an Equal Pay Day proclamation by Reps. Steve Israel (D-NY) and Kathleen Rice (D-NY). Thanks to the AAUW Cupertino-Sunnyvale (CA) Branch, Lisa Gillmor, mayor of Santa Clara, California, made Equal Pay Day her very first proclamation since assuming office. And the AAUW Fargo-Moorhead (ND) Branch upped the ante with Equal Pay Day proclamations by the mayors of North Fargo and West Fargo in North Dakota and in Moorhead, Minnesota.
5. Got out the vote
6. Got creative. Like, really creative.
This Equal Pay Day, AAUW members pulled out all the stops — and props — to spread awareness about the gender pay gap. We love how the AAUW Fayetteville (AR) Branch paid homage to equal pay icon Lilly Ledbetter, and AAUW branches everywhere got innovative by hosting (un)happy hours. But the ultimate prize for ingenuity goes to the AAUW Poughkeepsie (NY) Branch. To illustrate just how archaic the gender pay gap is, they dressed like ancient Greek women from Lysistrata, who withheld sex to advocate for an end to the Peloponnesian War. Members passed out celibacy pledges, pins that said “not tonight,” and discussed the gender pay gap while sipping wine.
7. Achieved ultimate equal pay #squadgoals
Our research and advocacy on the gender pay gap was cited in hundreds of blogs, articles, and news segments, from CNN and Forbes to Cosmopolitan and Vogue. We got love from Sheryl Sandberg, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, GoldieBlox, and even Wonder Woman herself. But the pay gap won’t close without legislative action. Fortunately, real-life superheroes from Congress, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), have expressed their dedication to equal pay by giving nods to our work while also reaffirming their commitment to passing the Paycheck Fairness Act.
Perhaps the mother of all #squadgoals came during our Equal Pay Day block party in Washington, D.C., when Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), along with Academy Award-winning actress Patricia Arquette, thanked AAUW for our work. “AAUW has played an amazing role in organizing the world around closing the gender pay gap,” DeLauro said. “I don’t want any more Equal Pay Days — I want Paycheck Fairness Day.” Cheers to that!
Did you take part in an event for Equal Pay Day on behalf of AAUW? Be sure to tell us all about it.
Here’s what you can do to fight for fair pay and help close the gender pay gap once and for all.
Through AAUW Start Smart and AAUW Work Smart, we’re helping to close the pay gap — one workshop at a time.
Until a federal law is passed, states will continue operating under piecemeal laws to combat unequal pay.