AAUW FACT SHEET: The Gender Wage Gap

Why is this an issue?

  •  Job creation and economic opportunity are critical issues for women, many of whom continue to struggle with economic insecurity and wage discrimination.
  •  Women working full time in the United States still earn just 77 percent, on average, of what men earn.
  • Even after accounting for many factors including college major, occupation, industry, sector, hours worked, workplace flexibility, experience, educational attainment, enrollment status, GPA, institution selectivity, age, race/ethnicity, region, marital status, and number of children, a recent AAUW report found that a 12 percent difference in the earnings of male and female college graduates 10 years after graduation still could not be explained. Clearly, the wage gap persists.
  • The wage gap persists across all racial and ethnic groups, and it is found in every state. Among full-time workers in 2011, Hispanic, Latina, and African American women had lower weekly median earnings compared with white and Asian American women.

Why should I care?

  • The wage gap has real consequences. With a record number of women in the workforce and two-thirds of women functioning as the primary or co-bread winners for their families, wage discrimination undermines families’ economic security.
  •  Wage discrimination also limits women’s choices. It lowers their ability to buy homes and pay for a college education, and limits their total lifetime earnings, thereby reducing their retirement benefits.

How can I make my voice heard?

  • Vote! Are you registered to vote? Are you sure? You can check at www.aauwaction.org/my-vote.
  • Find out where your officials and candidates stand on the issues at www.aauwaction.org/voter-education.
  • Take action and join AAUW’s Action Network at capwiz.com/aauw/mlm/signup.
  •  Learn about how you can help through the It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard campaign at www.aauwaction.org/my-vote/overview/


Member’s book about to be released

One of the delights of being at our book sale this past weekend was encountering author Lisa Lark and her strong, boxed-books-laden husband pouring over reference materials. In addition to writing, Lisa teaches English at Edsel Ford High School.

If you were fortunate enough to attend our Installation Dinner last June, I am certain you recall her compelling presentation on the extraordinary losses Dearborn suffered during the Vietnam conflict. At that time, Lisa was on leave from teaching for the Dearborn Public Schools and was working hard to finalize her manuscript.

Now her book entitled All They Left Behind: Legacies of the Men and Women on the Wall is about to be released.  Appropriately, Veterans Day, November 11, 2012, is the official publication date. The book is being published in commemoration of the thirtieth anniversary of The Wall and is sponsored by The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation.

Like all good-responsive teachers, Lisa sought to find the answer to a simple query from a student about the names listed on a memorial plaque in a hallway at Edsel Ford High School. Lisa soon found herself enmeshed in solving the mystery of lives that had been reduced to names. The Dearborn connection grew into the Michigan connection and then the entire United States connection. The work became so demanding that Lisa soon found herself needing to take a leave from teaching in order to devote herself full-time to her research efforts.

She partnered with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and was soon gathering biographical information, stories and photographs that amplified the lives of the men and women named on The Wall in Washington, D.C. Eventually Lisa devoted two years of her life to conducting five-hundred interviews with friends and family of the deceased in order to more fully reveal individual histories, personalities and acts of courage.

Her book focuses upon sixty-eight individuals who sacrificed everything in that fraught conflict. More than 58,000 names appear on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund website explains: “In 1982 the American people helped The Vietnam Veterans Memorial fund complete an impossible mission to heal a nation and bring comfort and solace to a generation of Veterans. Today, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is working to complete this mission by building The Education Center, the place on the National Mall where our heroes’ stories will never be forgotten.”

Lisa Lark is a recipient of the Hometown Heroes Award by The History Channel and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. Please honor her by purchasing her book!

Learning Needs to Be Linked to Labor Markets

According to a new study from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, the USA is falling behind industrialized nations in associate degrees and work certificates.

Currently, we are mired in a messy, disorganized system of job training for 29 million middle-class jobs.

For those earning less than a bachelor’s degree, opportunities for training and education are confusing and ineffective. Since today’s economy has fewer job opportunities for those who earn only a high school diploma, technical programs are essential to assure employment.

Career and technical education (CTE) is increasingly important for women and girls in a competitive marketplace.

Access to high-wage, high-skill jobs should be made available to women and girls from diverse racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

A national “learning exchange” could make the process more functional.  Students need an information system to see what sort of training and education are needed to land jobs. Community colleges could tailor curriculum to the job market, and employers could find more skilled workers. As manufacturing has declined, more jobs have shifted from blue-collar to white-collar occupations where few are even open to high school graduates.

Through a photographer’s eyes

Elizabeth Clark is a highly talented photographer in our community who took these linked photographs of horses.  For Elizabeth, James Oleson’s horse sculpture, GAZE, on display behind the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center recalled a photograph she had taken of a serene horse engaged in an “intense stare.” As she approached to shoot photographs, she reports, that the two horses “were calm and had a steady gaze upon her. Comfortable together, eyeing her as she eyed them….” Elizabeth encourages everyone to tour the selection of sculptures placed throughout the City of Dearborn under the auspices of The Community Fund. Why not wake up your senses? Take some time to get up-close-and-personal with art meant to provoke thought and beautify our surroundings.

Personal $$$ Deficits

Nearly twenty-five percent of American families with young children live in poverty.

One-third of women report foregoing basic necessities to pay for health care.

More than half of women have delayed seeking medical care due to costs.

The USA has no paid-family leave for new mothers.

Child care costs more than college in a majority of the states.

Nearly half (48%) of private-sector workers and 78% of food and public accommodation workers are denied even a single paid sick day!

More Than Books by Donna Braden

As we launch our annual book sale, it seems more than apt to share a wonderful reminiscence of a favorite-childhood library. The author is Dearborn resident Donna Braden, a graduate of the prestigious Winterthur program who is employed as a curator at The Henry Ford. Recall how your own favorite library shaped your love of reading and polished your imagination.

Carnegie libraries or Greek-temple-style libraries or modern open-plan libraries.  To me, the library in South Euclid, Ohio—the library of my childhood—surpassed them all.  My library filled an old mansion, a place where people had once eaten and slept and entertained before books lined the shelves in all the rooms.  The place had atmosphere and personality and mystery. 


I grew up in a basic, no-frills post-war house, just like the other houses in my neighborhood.  But mere blocks away, the house that would later become the South Euclid library was full of frills:  intricate flagstone walks, colorful slate roof tiles, massive wooden beams that formed peaked gables, multi-paned lead-glass windows, carved stone archways.  Every outside angle, every inside room was varied, distinctive and exotic. 


Once the library published a booklet with a floor plan of the original home, a visit there took on added meaning.  That little-circular room with the kids’ picture books, the one with the row of windows looking out over the back lawn of the estate?  That had been the breakfast room!  The long-rectangular room for kids’ fiction, with the carved stone fireplace?  The room where I had shyly reported about books I had read for the Summer Book Club?  That had been the dining room.  And on it went.  Kids’ non-fiction had been the kitchen.  Early Readers were in the pantry.  A student-study room was aptly placed in what had once been the study.  They repaired books in the old potting shed.  Atop the grand-stone staircase on the second floor was perhaps best of all—the tiled bathroom with an old-claw-foot bathtub! The art and music books were in rooms that had all been bedrooms. Past and present melded into a seamless tapestry in my mind, adding extra magic to the books themselves. 


When I was sixteen, the South Euclid library became the place of my first paying job.  A dollar-ten an hour, to be a “library page”—funny name for a book-shelver.  So, I lived up to the title they gave me. I made sure my job actually involved paging through books as much as shelving.  Hmm, isn’t that an interesting graphic style in that new children’s book?  I must check that out. There are those Betsy-Tacy books I used to read when I was little.  I think I’ll just take a look at them to see why I loved them so much.  What’s this in my shelving pile?  A new book on Monet—we’re studying his work in art class. I need to flip through those pages; my teacher will be impressed with my knowledge and insight. 


I’m sure the librarians knew about my book-paging habit.  Sometimes they’d show up unawares to keep me on my toes.  But I was on to them as much as they were on to me.  I attuned my ears to the clicking sound of their high heels. Maybe they figured that, for a dollar-ten an hour, it was an acceptable job perk.  They never called me on it, and I discovered a lot of great books in the process.


One special job was checking record albums in and out.  I became the master of record album-checking.  I took great pride in scrutinizing them for new scratches when they were returned, carefully taking them out of their jackets and slowly cleaning them with a cloth.  But the best part of being the master record album-checker was that they were all there for my own pleasure.  I turned that job into my personal music appreciation class.  One week it would be Handel’s Water Music, the next Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony, with an occasional Simon-and-Garfunkel album thrown in for variation.


I hadn’t thought about the South Euclid library for decades. But this past June, on a family trip, I showed my husband and daughter around the place.  I led them from room to room, recounting layers of memories. Both proved patient and came to know me a little better that day. Not too much had changed over the years–same rooms, same shelves, same views from  multi-paned, lead-glass windows.  But something was missing. Where were all the people whose cars filled the parking lot?


Eventually, we spotted people coming up from and going down into the old cellar.  In my day, the cellar had been a junky place for overflow books—low ceilings, no windows, claustrophobic.  I told my family there was nothing in the cellar worth seeing; and just to prove it, led the way to show them.


Was I surprised!  The lower level had been fixed-up into a new media center, with a door that led to a flower-strewn patio.  The people were here!  Not with the books upstairs, but with the computers downstairs.  My old library had lulled me into thinking it was the same. It wasn’t. Life had evolved.


I can’t bring back the old days, and I don’t even want to.  But, my childhood and adolescent experiences at the South Euclid library did lay the groundwork for my lifelong love of reading, my appreciation of classical music, my delight in mysterious old houses.  It also helped me hone something more intangible than any those things—my imagination.

Global Purchases

Recently, Beverly Reiter, program vice-president for our branch, gave me a great tip about buying American-made shoes at Hershey’s Shoes in Garden City on Ford Road. She specifically recommended a brand of handcrafted women’s shoes named SAS, which it turns out is the name of a corporation in San Antonio, Texas. SAS stands for San Antonio Shoes. According to their website their:  “passion for shoemaking started with Terry Armstrong and Lew Hayden. By the 1970’s shoemaking was leaving the United States and many of those who remained were cutting corners to compete with less expensive imports. Neither Terry nor Lew wanted to compromise on quality, so in 1976 they quit their jobs in the shoe industry and started SAS. They crafted every shoe by hand, with attention to detail and the best materials available. We wanted our shoes to be so comfortable that you didn’t want to take them off! Soon friends told friends about their ‘really, really, really comfortable new shoes’; and before long SAS became a national brand without any national advertising. The shoes..are the result of 30 years of hard work, dedication, and belief…. Every day we work to make sure the SAS name continues to stand for superb craftsmanship and extraordinary comfort.” It is a reassuring tale of success in the face of all of the obstacles thrown at American manufacturing by the global economy.

That brought to mind a thought-provoking essay written by L. Marie Bernier who is part of the Wednesday-morning creative writing class which meets at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center.

Marie’s essay, entitled, “The Economy in 2012” will change your perception of the myriad objects which we buy to fill our dwellings:

 According to the Republicans, our lousy economy is all the fault of the Democrats. Of course, the  Democrats think the Republicans are to blame.

    Spain has almost fifty percent unemployment among young-adult males. Things are nearly as bad or worse in Greece, Italy and Egypt. Even ever-mighty Germany is having some serious economic problems. My friends in Great Britain write they have been made redundant. I understand that means they have lost their jobs. I don’t know whom they are blaming. Probably a Prime Minister, a King or somebody.

    Maybe, just maybe, we all need to share the blame. The blueberries in my kitchen came from Canada. The strawberries are from Mexico. I don’t know where the bananas came from. The television, coffee-maker and the blood pressure machine came from China. The microwave was manufactured in Korea.  My kitchen towels came from India.

    In my dining room the good china came from England, but the stoneware and two trays were made in Japan. There are some fancy baskets for rolls and stuff. I don’t know where they were made, but I brought them home from Jamaica.

    The wall phone in the kitchen came from Mexico, but the phone in the bedroom was shipped from Singapore. I don’t know where my cell phone came from, but the phone in my computer room was made in Mexico, and the answering machine was made in China. I did not have the energy to flip my computer and printer over; so I don’t know who made them.

    In my bedroom the television is a Magnavox, and I don’t know where it came from, but the remote control was made in the Philippines. However, the double A batteries were made in the good-ole USA!

    The bedroom-ceiling fan came from China. The alarm clock was also made in China. One camera was made in China, but another camera states: “assembled in USA” from foreign parts. They didn’t say which foreign parts.

    The television in the living room says Toshiba, and another box says Comcast. I’m pretty sure Comcast didn’t make the TV, or did they? I think the Lazy Boy chairs in the living room were made in Monroe–or assembled there–or maybe not.

    The hand lotion in the bathroom came from Mexico, but the face cream came from Canada. The bath towels were shipped from China, but Irish Spring and Dove soap were made in the good-ole USA. Good for them–and me.

    I just checked six pairs of the shoes in my closet. They were made in Mexico, Italy, China and Cambodia. My orthopedic sandals, called Wolkys, made for walking, supposedly from Belgium, on closer examination, seem to have been made in Mexico.

    My So-Slimming slacks were made in Cambodia, before they landed in Chico’s. The silver jacket and vest were made in Vietnam. The long dress, for special occasions, came from Indonesia. The jazzy polka-dot slacks from Chico’s and the snazzy maxi-skirt from Victoria’s Secret were both made in Vietnam. The posh, new, faux-fur jacket, that looks just like someone’s shaggy-old dog, came from China.

    Oh, yes, and in my garage, there is a Rav4 made by Toyota.

    Now, why do you suppose the economy is so bad?

Marie’s compendium makes me reconsider the line: geography is destiny! Meanwhile I think I should go buy a new pair of shoes…at Hershey’s in Garden City.

RIP: Eva Figes, Author and Feminist

In the protest-driven and raucous-rebellious 1970s, three books drove the feminist agenda: Kate Millett’s Sexual Politics (1969), Germaine Greer’s Female Eunuch (1970), and  Eva Figes’ Patriarchal Attitudes (1970).

Raising two children after an acrimonious divorce at age 38, Figes examined the inequality inherent in marriage as well as  women’s inferior status in society: “The much vaunted male logic isn’t logical, because they display prejudices — against half the human race — that are considered prejudices according to any dictionary definition.”

Her anger and sense of righteousness steeped in her like hot tea after she experienced workplace discrimination. Her divorce proceedings further amplified her anger. Like other women of that era, her ex-husband had to guarantee the lease for her home. She was receiving no alimony by the way!

“Minutes” by “Minutes”

The minutes taken at the first AAUW general meeting in 1882, were written in a neat hand and went on for pages. Sixty-five college graduates from eight colleges and universities met together in Boston. Their goal was to change perceived injustice in their world. The journey they began continues 130 years later. Each successive generation has become one more link to forge a great chain of equality. Imagine all the minutes written by hand, typed and duplicated on reams of paper and now zooming across the net.

Kudos to AAUW’s philanthropic efforts!

We can all feel good about what we are achieving in AAUW. In addition to focusing upon research, education and advocacy, we are among the elite philanthropic organizations.
AAUW was recently recognized as a top charity by the Huffington Post, Charity Navigator, and even NerdWallet!

In addition, GreatNonprofits has again recognized AAUW was as a top-rated women’s empowerment organization! GreatNonprofits catalogs and shares reviews of nonprofit organizations around the world. The website allows the public to post stories about and rate their experiences with nonprofits and to find out more about the organizations they are interested in supporting.