Yesterday, I received a “Major Issues, Major Impact Questionnaire” from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), an organization breaking barriers for women and girls. Answering the questionnaire is important since “AAUW research and education programs are used by federal, state, and local agencies and academics to address gender and gender gap issues positively.”
AAUW was the resource that the U.S. Congress used to pass the Lilly Ledbetter bill, the first bill signed by President Barack Obama. According to an article “Obama Signs Equal-Pay Legislation” by Sheryl Gay Stolberg in The New York Times on January 29, 2009, “the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (is) a law named for an Alabama woman who at the end of a 19-year career as a supervisor in a tire factory complained that she had been paid less than men.”
The author goes on to write that “After a Supreme Court ruling against her, Congress approved the legislation that expands workers’ rights to sue in this kind of case, relaxing the statute of limitations.” President Obama stated that, “It is fitting that with the very first bill I sign — the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act — we are upholding one of this nation’s first principles: that we are all created equal and each deserve a chance to pursue our own version of happiness.”
Stolberg wrote that the president “was signing the bill not only in honor of Ms. Ledbetter — who stood behind him, shaking her head and clasping her hands in seeming disbelief — but in honor of his own grandmother, ‘who worked in a bank all her life, and even after she hit that glass ceiling, kept getting up again’ and for his daughters, ‘because I want them to grow up in a nation that values their contributions, where there are no limits to their dreams.’
That was in 2009 and not much progress has been made on the gender pay gap since then. The AAUW warned that, “Women have only gained 13 CENTS toward pay equity with men in the last 30 years. At this rate, it will take another 60 years before we achieve pay equity.”
Women working full time earn 77 cents, on average, for every dollar earned by men. AAUW also stated that, “just one year out of college, women working full time already earn less than male colleagues, even in the same field, and that the pay gap widens as time goes by.”
Here are examples of the impact of paycheck inequity: if he makes $10,000, she makes $7,700. If he makes $30,000, she makes $23,100. If he makes $50,000, she makes $38,500. If he makes $70,000, she makes $53,900. If he makes $100,000, she makes $77,000.
AAUW and other organizations are doing their best to help women earn an equal paycheck. Enacting bills from the U.S. Congress on equity is not all that can be done, however. It takes women, especially young women, to do their research before accepting a salary offer. Often, it is the first salary you get that determines how much you will be making as you climb the corporate ladder. So be prepared to state that you want to receive a salary equal to the one that a male would — a small but important step to end the gender pay gap.