Topic Talks

Equal Pay and Wage Gap Discussed

On Monday, March 20, 2017, a new program called Topic Talks was introduced to the Carlisle AAUW membership as several members and their guests gathered at the home of Didem Cal.  Twelve attendees enjoyed a fact filled overview by member and discussion topic leader, Donna Bickford.  Donna is the Director of Women’s and Gender Resource Center at Dickinson College and was able to share a wealth of knowledge with our group.  Also, Ann Pehle, our Public Policy Chair, shared updates on legislative activity in Pennsylvania that relate to the gender pay gap issue in the state.

Prior to attending the meeting, attendees were provided three short publications to review which are listed below along with links for anyone who was unable to attend.

  1. Glamour magazine article: http://www.glamour.com/story/12-real-people-discover-what-the-pay-gap-looks-like
  2. Slate.com article: http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2015/11/don_t_teach_women_to_negotiate_their_salaries_just_ban_salary_negotiations.html
  3. AAUW’s research – http://www.aauw.org/resource/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/

A Few Discussion Highlights:

In the U.S., current studies indicate a pay gap of 20%, meaning that women overall earn 20% less than men in this country.  In the state of Pennsylvania, the gap is slightly worse at 21%.

It is astonishing to understand the impact gender pay inequity can have on the lives of women.  Pay inequity follows women throughout their careers causing significant loss of lifetime earnings and lower social security and retirement benefits.  When women start the beginning of their careers with a gap, it usually follows them throughout their lives, impacting raises, opportunities and salaries in subsequent positions.

While progress has been made in our lifetimes, there is much left to be done.  Right here in Pennsylvania, SB241, a flawed equal pay bill, is moving through the legislative process.  It contains an amendment that would block local governments from enacting protection that is stronger than that asserted by the state, effectively repealing protections recently passed by the city of Philadelphia.  This is a bad piece of legislation that would not push gender pay equity forward.  AAUW at the state and local levels will be working to modify or defeat this bill.

Our Topic Talks group enjoyed a casual social hour with one another and a lively back and forth discussion as members shared stories and experiences, asked questions and offered opinions around various points.  We were fortunate to have a wide range of occupations, backgrounds and geography represented which made the conversation rich and interesting.  From our two international guests, we were informed that in Brazil, many of the same gender biases and problems exist while in Tunisia, equal pay is a point of law and therefore not seen as a current problem.

Many thanks to all of the ladies who participated as attendees and to those on the Public Policy Committee for helping to organize, host and provide refreshments for this first event.

–Nancy Sigrist