Pay Equity

It’s Time to Pay Women What They’re Worth!

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In 2008, women made up 46.5% of the U.S. workforce. In 2007, women were 47.5% of the Michigan workforce. Despite women’s increasing prominence in our workplaces and the critical contributions of women to the state and national economies, women are still far from achieving pay equity.

According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in 2008 there was a 22.9% gap between the wages of men and women working full-time, year-round. That is, women earned only 77.1% as much as men. Women had to work until April 23, 2009, designated as Equal Pay Day, to earn what men earned in 2008. While the gap has been closing very slowly over time, women took a step backwards in 2008, as women’s wages fell faster than men’s.

A 2007 report by the American Association of University Women, revealed that “One year out of college, women working full time earn only 80 percent as much as their male colleagues earn. Ten years after graduation, women fall farther behind, earning only 69 percent as much as men earn. Controlling for hours, occupation, parenthood, and other factors normally associated with pay, college-educated women still earn less than their male peers earn.” Furthermore, Behind the Pay Gap found, “the portion of the pay gap that remains unexplained after all other factors are taken into account is 5 percent one year after graduation and 12 percent 10 years after graduation. These unexplained gaps are evidence of discrimination.”

As one step toward addressing the problem of pay inequity, President Obama signed The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act on January 29th, 2009—the first piece of legislation he enacted.

What You Can Do

Tell the Michigan legislature that pay equity and comparable worth are important matters of fairness for women and the families they support. Legislation in Michigan would amend the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act to provide equal compensation for work of comparable value in terms of the composite skill, responsibility, effort, education or training and working conditions regardless of religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, or marital status.

Urge your state representatives to support House Bills 4625, 4626 and 4627 and their equivalent bills in the state Senate. To learn more, click here, to go to the House Fiscal Agency webpage showing the bills, their progress through the legislature and the HFA’s legislative analysis.
For information on locating your legislators and crafting a message, click here.

The Gender Wage Gap & Negotiation Skills

CEW collaborated with the university's Career Center to offer senior undergraduates a workshop entitled "The Gender Wage Gap & Negotiation Skills."  CEW policy intern Jessica Greenfield presented information describing the gap and ways to advocate for pay equity.  Career Center counselor Lauren Hildescheim then worked with participants to learn about and practice negotiation skills.  The two presentations, as well as handouts, can be downloaded below: