AAUW advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research. Founded in 1881, AAUW is open to graduates with an associate or higher degree from an accredited college or university, as well as students currently enrolled in college. Dues support the operations of the Dearborn-Michigan branch, founded in 1933, as well as the state and national organizations.
Thank you for contacting me regarding equal pay for women. I share your views on this issue.
I am pleased to inform you that I am a cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would increase penalties on employers who pay different wages to men and women for equal work. This legislation would also protect workers from retaliation when filing claims of discrimination against their employers.
I was also pleased that President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law. This was the first piece of legislation he signed as President. Since the Supreme Court ruled to limit the ability of many workers to file a claim when faced with pay discrimination, I have fought to pass legislation correcting this decision. Employees may now file a claim for wage discrimination up to 180 days after each paycheck that reflects pay inequality.
I strongly believe that men and women should receive equal pay for equal work, and I will continue to fight for legislation that strives to meet this goal.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact my office. Please feel free to contact me again whenever I can be of assistance to you and your family.
United States Senator
Branch, Student Affiliate, member Laura Marko has been selected as one of the 2014, Difference Makers at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. The award confirms what a lot of us already know about Laura. She has achieved excellence in academics, integrity, leadership and creativity.
Laura’s SCHOOL: College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters
Laura’s MAJOR: Communications, Women’s and Gender Studies
Laura’s: CAMPUS CONNECTIONS
Association of Non-Traditional Students
Association of Women Veterans
Voice for Choice
Visit http://www.michigandifferencemakers.com/Laura_Marko to watch a video interview with her! The story that accompanies the interview on the same web page follows:
Laura Marko is always up for a challenge.
“I rarely take the easy way in life, and I’ve never been bored with my life,” Laura said. “My Navy recruiter gave me the best advice before I boarded the plane for boot camp, and that was to always volunteer for the toughest jobs and to never hesitate when taking them on. That’s how leaders are made, and that’s how you make a difference.”
During her time in the military, Laura worked as both a photographer and communications specialist in the United States Navy. She also served as a direct supervisor for both junior sailors and Marines.
“After five years in the military that included one deployment, four promotions and years spent out at sea, I decided it was time to leave the Navy and begin a new challenge, college.” Laura said.
At University of Michigan-Dearborn, Laura has been involved with the Association of Women Veterans, Association of Non-Traditional Students, American Association of University Women and Voice for Choice.
“When I transitioned to a civilian, my leadership skills came with me,” she said. “I’m always willing and anxious to take on leadership roles, volunteer in my community and help make my campus community a better place. I don’t wait to be told to do a task. If I see something that needs to be done, I take the initiative to do it myself. That’s the kind of leader I am.”
Those leadership skills were on full display as Laura worked to build a network for veteran students on campus. She partnered with organizations and individuals both on and off campus to help provide resources for veterans, advocate on their behalf and ease the transition to civilian and student life.
Laura also is active in her community off campus, serving in an elected officer position at VFW Post 78 in Dearborn Heights, volunteering for the City of Dearborn’s planning committee for the annual Memorial Day Parade and joining numerous veterans organizations including the American Legion and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
“When I think about someone who deserves the title difference maker, Laura Marko is one of the few individuals that comes to mind,” said Will Emerson, veteran coordinator in the Veteran Affairs Office. “Laura has enriched the experiences of our student veterans on and off the campus community. There are not nearly enough words for me to describe the true difference Laura makes in the lives of those she works with. She is, simply put, a difference maker.”
The following guest editorial appeared in yesterday’s Detroit Free Press. Please contact Senator Stabenow’s office and let her know how much we members of AAUW appreciate her taking this stance!
Phone: (313) 961-4330 or (202) 224-4822 or (810) 720-4172 or contact her by email via her website at http://www.stabenow.senate.gov .
Last week, the Senate voted on an issue that is of crucial importance to women and their families, both across Michigan and across our country: ending pay discrimination against women so they can finally receive equal pay for equal work.
Everyone in this country deserves a fair shot to get ahead. That means not only making sure that they are being paid a fair wage, but that they are not being paid less simply because they are a woman — or a man. And that is what the Paycheck Fairness Act is all about: giving everyone, regardless of their gender, the tools they need to help end gender discrimination in pay and hold those engaging in discriminatory behavior accountable.
Today, in 2014, women still make only 77 cents on the dollar compared to men doing the same work. That’s the national average — 77 cents for women, 100 cents for men. In Michigan the numbers are even worse — 74 cents on the dollar for women.
That is just not right.
Some people say we’re just talking about pennies on the dollar and dismiss this issue as a distraction. Well, those pennies add up. In Michigan, pay discrimination robs the average working woman and her family of more than $13,000 in wages every year. While these women are working for discounted wages, they certainly don’t get a 26% discount on gas, or at the grocery store, or when the rent or the mortgage comes due.
Others have said that equal pay is just not that important to women and that women really want “flexibility.” Flextime never paid for the groceries or put a child through college.
Every single one of my Republican colleagues voted, once again, to block equal pay legislation. It is outrageous that in 2014, some in Congress apparently still think that women don’t deserve to earn the same amount as a man for doing the same job.
As President Barack Obama said last week, gender discrimination in pay is “not a myth, it’s math.” This is a real problem that is affecting women and their families across our state each and every day.
Kerri Sleeman, an engineer from Hancock, is one of those women. After her former employer, an auto supplier, went bankrupt, she found out from the bankruptcy filings that all of the men she had been supervising had been paid more than her. “It was heartbreaking. It was embarrassing. It was infuriating,” she said.
Discrimination cost her thousands of dollars in wages lost and benefits denied. Like most people in Michigan, Sleeman could have used that money. She said she would have used it to help pay the co-pay for her husband’s heart surgery, which instead she had to put on her credit card. She not only lost out on pay at her job week after week, she will lose out on Social Security benefits for the rest of her life.
That is just not fair. And that’s not how things should work in this country.
In Michigan, we believe that everyone should have a fair shot. That means paying people what they earn, whether they are a man or a woman. If a woman works 40 hours a week, she should get paid for 40 hours a week — not for only 30 or 31 hours.
The difference in pay simply because of gender discrimination can mean the difference between food on the table, gas in her car, making the mortgage payment, or maybe that tuition payment for her son or daughter in college.
No one should have to go through what Sleeman did, or what the thousands of other women just like her do every day. When the Senate takes up equal pay legislation again, I hope we can come together in a bipartisan way and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. It’s the right thing for women and their families. It’s the right thing for our economy. And it’s simply the right thing to do.
Debbie Dingell moderated. Janet Watkins, president of AAUW-MI; Dr. Sally Barnett, public-sector employment expert; and Professor Suzanne Bergeron, Women and Gender Studies all brought singular and fresh perspectives to the discussion.
Debbie Dingell began the discussion with an explanation of how women were simply kept out of the mix at one time. She related two delightful anecdotes. One was about women not being allowed into the Detroit Athletic Club at one time. So a group of determined females ascended the front steps, removed their high heels and left them behind as a not-so-subtle gift to the “heels” inside. The second anecdote was about her studying to be part of the foreign service, only to learn no women were allowed to serve as ambassadors. Dingell sounded like a determined congressional candidate when she declared: “Women in Michigan need a raise, and we need it now.” That concise declarative statement would make a great picket sign or political pin for voters in this state!
Janet Watkins cited how eventful events of this past week were in Washington, D.C. President Obama signed a pay equity agreement for federal employees only to watch the plutocracy in the Senate prevent a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act the following day. Watkins then declared a nummerical code: 77, 74, 65, 56 and 2058. It’s a sequence we should all commit to memory. U.S. pay-gap: 77 cents. State of Michigan pay-gap: 74 cents. Pay-gap for African-American women: 65 cents. Pay-gap for Hispanic women: 56 cents. 2058: the year projected for pay parity to be achieved!
Sally Barnett stressed that Fair is the F-word in this country. Forty percent of households are headed by a woman today; so that makes the pay-gap a family issue, not just a gender issue. She told anecdotes about women not being allowed to wear pantsuits in the classroom in the seventies, and how a policy was designed to permit their attire to change. Men had no equivalent policy dictating their appearance in classrooms. Pregnant teachers had to leave classrooms at the fifth month without pay. She also explained how women’s jobs were often undervalued. Although secretaries were required to earn a two-year degree, they were paid less than male custodians. Barnett encouraged those present to learn statistics from the Department of Labor and to study AAUW publications like “Graduating to a Pay Gap” and “The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap.”
Professor Suzanne Bergeron cited anecdotes from her own professional development and acknowledged the impact of sports and its “old-boy” networks. At another university, she was once cautioned by a superior that he was protecting her by not sharing her professional accomplishments with colleagues. He said, “People don’t like women who are braggarts.” Her retort was an etymological one: “Like means equal under the law.” She shared one piece of research in which identical curriculum vitae were used in job applications. The result was that college departments hired males as full professors, while females were hired as assistant professors.
She went on to explain a number of generalizations to consider:
- Transparency is very important. People can’t effect change when they don’t have proof that change is needed.
- One third of the pay-gap is due to explicit discrimination.
- Careers women tend to enter are undervalued by society. Eighty percent of women are employed in female-dominant jobs.
- Child care issues are enormous. The woman is frequently the spouse that cares for children because the male spouse earns more.
- For LGBT individuals pay differential is even more dramatic.
- Policy interventions are necessary to make change.
At the end of the presentation each panelist offered final considerations:
Debbie Dingell stressed how long it takes to shift generational and cultural attitudes.
She also implored those present to do their jobs well. “Women who are ineffective damage other women!” She suggested that those present consider finding a man as a mentor. Men are often better placed in terms of power and insight. She also suggested surrounding oneself, “with people who will tell you the hard truth, not just what you want to hear.”
Janet Watkins recommended a thought-provoking book entitled “The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: the Conflict Between Word and Image” by Leonard Shlain. It explores how history codified views of men and women. Upon the decline of women’s status, patriarchy followed. She went on to say how important STEM fields are today. Learning to negotiate provides one strength. In regard to earnings, honoring one’s strength provides the necessary courage to not be afraid to ask and to declare, “I need this.”
Sally Barnett suggested that women go into an occupation that they love, but to have enough confidence to follow new opportunities as they arise. Willingness to take risks and always to be well informed with facts about economic trends and opportunities are keys.
Suzanne Bergeron stressed the dilemma of work-life balance and suggested it can only be ameliorated through laws and policies. She also stressed that doing research and coming to a job interview with solid information is essential. Mentors and networking are useful tools as well.
It was a good discussion as it clarified where women have been, how serious the economic issues are and how to make change in the future.
We have been given permission to reprint an article that appeared today in the electronic version of The Dearborn Press & Guide
The title is “UM-Dearborn Students Demonstrate in Support of Equal Pay.”
Aysha Jamali wrote the article.
A group of energetic women gathered Wednesday at the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s University Center in a “flash mob” for the first Equal Pay Awareness Week.
“Besides the obvious that we should earn the same amount of pay as men, we have a lot of women in our colleges who are going to be dealing with this pay gap,” said Saleemah Morris, UM-D student and member of the university’s American Association of University Women (AAUW) Student Organization, which organized the week-long initiative.
Morris was among a group of women from the AAUW Student Organization, the first in Michigan, and from the Dearborn branch of the AAUW, which supports the student organization, who danced to music before students in the cafeteria and held signs demonstrating their views on the gender wage gap. Tina Nelson, president and co-founder of the AAUW Student Organization, said the flash mob brought the issue to the students who are often caught up in their lives and unaware.
“Our goal is to raise awareness of the difference in pay between men and women,” said Lee Savage, staff advisor to the AAUW Student Organization. “It’s also beyond awareness and about giving students and the community resources on how they can advocate change.”
Equal pay awareness is a hot topic considering a bill that sought to address the gender pay gap was voted down by the U.S. Senate Wednesday. U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, who co-sponsored the bill, spoke on Michigan Radio Wednesday about Michigan’s reputation as having one of the biggest gender pay gaps in the U.S. According to a new report by the National Partnership for Women and Families, women in Michigan are paid 74 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a yearly wage gap of $13,125 between men and women who work full time.
“It’s important for a lot of us as college students to understand pay equity,” said student Laura Marko, of Dearborn and a five-year navy veteran. “The pay gap starts as soon as we graduate, and we need to be able to negotiate salaries.”
Equal Pay Awareness Week includes a panel discussion this afternoon with congressional candidate Debbie Dingell from 4 to 6 p.m. in room 110 at Fairlane Center North, and a “Start Smart Salary Negotiation” workshop 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday at the University Center. More details are available at the university’s website.
Staff Writer Aysha Jamali can be reached at email@example.com
Behind the University Center, the rock has been painted to demonstrate how the two genders do not enjoy equal pay in the USA.
Saleemah Morris, University of Michigan-Dearborn student and member of the university’s American Association of University Women (AAUW) Student Organization, advocates for equal pay Wednesday during Equal Pay Awareness Week.
It’s a good thing that women don’t come equipped with plums, because if they did, they would have just endured a big kick in the plums from their very own elected officials!
A procedural vote in the U.S. Senate just blocked a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act. So much for fairness. So much for equality. So much for justice.
We needed 60 senators to vote “yes” on a cloture to bring the Paycheck Fairness Act up for a vote on the Senate floor. Yet the Senate voted this morning 53-44 against cloture thus preventing a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act itself. I imagine there are a lot of big-fat stogies being smoked in D.C. today as the fat-cat lobbyists, who worked so hard to prevent the vote, celebrate buying another victory for their side. Sadly today, we have even more proof that we now live in a country of the rich, by the rich and for the rich.
Over 50 co-sponsors of the Paycheck Fairness Act had their votes blocked. Ironically, had there been a full Senate vote, the bill would have passed! So much for fairness and democracy and decency! Tricky maneuvers were “employed” today, but those deploying them forget tomorrow is coming again and again and again and again and again, until those on the right side of history eventually prevail.
Yesterday, President Obama “employed” another maneuver. He signed an Executive Order to prohibit federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss compensation. Over 26 million people in America work for federal contractors.— That is one fifth of the U.S. workforce!
Then today, the U.S. Senate turned its back on the other eighty percent of of the workforce. So much for equality and protection under the law!
From Lisa Maatz, AAUW Vice President of Government Relations
If we make enough phone calls to the Senate today, Equal Pay Day may become a happy occasion!
Equal Pay Day is the symbolic day when a women’s earnings finally catch up to what men earned last year. It takes the average woman 15 months to make what the average man made in 12. – It’s unfair, unjust and should be illegal. it’s long past time for our lawmakers to do something about it.
Today President Barack Obama will sign two executive orders to help employees of federal contractors find out if they are receiving the equal pay they deserve. It’s terrific that the president is signing these executive orders, but that doesn’t mean Congress is off the hook.
As early as tomorrow, the Senate will have an opportunity to join the president on the right side of history by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act. Call your senators at 202.224.3121 today and urge them to support the Paycheck Fairness Act!
The Paycheck Fairness Act would extend the protections in President Obama’s executive orders to all workers and update the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to bring the law into the 21st century. We need the Paycheck Fairness Act to get rid of these Mad Men-era policies that hold back working families and economic recovery.
Before the Senate can vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, senators will vote on a cloture motion to proceed to the full vote. We need 60 votes to proceed, so every vote matters – call your senators today at 202.224.3121 and deliver a message something like this:
“My name is ____________, and I’m a constituent. I urge the senator to support the Paycheck Fairness Act (S, 84/2199) when it comes up for a vote. We need the Paycheck Fairness Act to bring the Equal Pay Act of 1963 into the 21st century. I urge you to stand on the right side of history by voting yes to allow the Paycheck Fairness Act to come up for a full debate and a final vote.”
After you speak to your first senator’s office, call 202.224.3121 to be connected to your second senator. It may take an extra two minutes, but it’s worth it! Members of Congress notice when the phones are ringing off the hook, and we can make that happen.
Gender pay discrimination is wrong; it’s time for lawmakers to help stop it. Call your senators at 202.224.3121 today! Then e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us how the call went.
Let’s get the Paycheck Fairness Act over the finish line.
Did you hear the exciting news this morning? President Barack Obama is going to sign the executive order banning federal contractors from retaliating against employees who ask about or disclose salary information! In the same ceremony, he will also direct the Department of Labor to move forward on the data compensation tool that will help us see if federal contractors and subcontractors are discriminating against women with our taxpayer dollars.
All of this will happen at a White House event on Tuesday (Equal Pay Day!) where Lilly Ledbetter will introduce the president and AAUW will proudly stand with her while the president signs the two documents bringing us one step closer to equal pay.
On Equal Pay Day last year, thousands of AAUW members and supporters sent messages to President Obama urging him to issue the anti-retaliation executive order – and that’s not the first time we sent this message, nor was it the last. Time and time again, whether it was in New Orleans at the June 2013, AAUW National Convention; or even as recently as February of this year, when the president took action on minimum wage but not equal pay, you kept up the pressure and got us to this point.
Soon after President Obama makes his actions official on Tuesday, the Senate will have an opportunity to join the president on the right side of history by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act. The Senate could vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act as early as Tuesday or Wednesday of this week! After that, working families nationwide will be looking to the House to bring up the Paycheck Fairness Act for a vote so we can finally ensure all workers earn the equal pay they deserve.
It’s been a long road to this point, and you’ve been with us every step of the way. Let’s applaud President Obama for his leadership on equal pay and urge Congress to do the same!
Yours in AAUW,
Lisa M. Maatz, Vice President of Government Relations