On Balance

Did you know that among pharmacists there is no gender pay gap?

Did you know that after orchestras introduced blind auditions, wherein a screen hides the identity of the candidate doing an audition from the judges who select those musicians, women went from 5% to 25% of the instrumentalists in the nation’s top-five symphony orchestras within two decades?

Did you know that the USA (largely due to having no access to day care and no universal health coverage along with diminishing reproductive rights) is now the sixth-best place to be a woman?

Did you know a typical woman who works full time earns almost 18% less than a typical working man?

Did you know that President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act almost a half century ago in 1963?

Did you know that mandating “equal pay for equal work” wouldn’t make much of a difference right now because of the nation’s growing income inequality, with resultant  vast differences between the income of low-wage and high-wage workers?

Did you know that the pay gap is largest among the nation’s highest earners?
(At the 10th percentile of earners, women make about 90 cents for every dollar earned by men. At the 90th percentile, near the top, women make about 77 cents for every dollar earned by men.)

Did you know that most economists agree that “outright sex discrimination has declined sharply”?

Did you know that equal-pay laws may be needed simply to change the norms of society?

Did you know the most successful women either have no children or have hired someone to take primary care of the kids?

Today’s New York Times has a fascinating article by Eduardo Porter that grapples with the issues of pay equity entitled, “Motherhood Still a Cause Of Pay Inequality.”

He links pay inequity to women choosing different educational paths; taking different jobs — being a pediatrician as opposed to a cardiologist for instance; taking different career paths — working at nonprofits pays less than at for profits; and the constraints of motherhood with career interruptions and fewer hours due to inability to come into work early or do overtime on short notice.

Interestingly, he cites AAUW research: “Female engineers earn considerably more than female educators straight out of college. Nonetheless, women account for only 18 percent of engineering majors versus 79 percent of education majors, according to a study by the American Association of University Women.”

And: “A study by the American Association of University Women found that the pay gap straight out of college — before the demands of family become an issue — was only 5 percent after accounting for other differences between the sexes.”

Maybe it could all be clarified by simply measuring the starting salaries given to men and women in the same field performing the same job!

Happily, recent studies indicate that women in urban areas under the age of  thirty earn more than men. Now, more women than men graduate from universities. Options have increased. Fields that were once closed are now open to all comers.The pendulum turns at its fulcrum.

Clarification re: Violence Against Women Act

June 11, 2012

Dear Ms. Gautreau:

Knowing of your interest in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), I wanted to share with you recent floor activities on this matter.

The reauthorization of VAWA, H.R. 4970, was introduced by Representative Sandy Adams (R-FL) on April 27, 2012.  I was proud to support the original Violence Against Women Act when Congress passed it with bipartisan support in 1994 because it created landmark programs to help victims of domestic violence, provided grants for law enforcement agencies, and established new categories of crimes such as stalking.  However, I was disappointed to not be able to support H.R. 4790. VAWA is one of the true bipartisan success stories in Congress and it has achieved a real, significant and lasting impact on our nation.  Since VAWA first passed, the annual incidence of domestic violence has decreased by 53 percent.  However, there is still much work to be done, as approximately one in five women have been raped in their lifetime, and 45 percent of the women killed in the United States die after being attacked by an intimate partner.

Given the fact that violence against women continues to be a serious problem in this country, it is disappointing to see the Republican majority pursue such a partisan and reckless path forward with this legislation.  Instead of following the Senate’s lead, which passed an effective and bipartisan bill to reauthorize VAWA, the GOP has decided to play politics with this important issue and has significantly weakened protections for battered women and instituted discriminatory policies.  Specifically, H.R. 4970 does not include key provisions of the Senate bill which ensure that LGBT victims are not discriminated against in VAWA programs.  We can all agree that no victim of domestic abuse should be denied care because of their sexual orientation.  As a lifetime supporter of civil rights I cannot in good conscience support legislation which would permit this to happen.

Further, three out of five Native American women are victims of domestic violence in their lifetime, which is a pressing national problem.  The Senate bill addresses this concern by including provisions which would give Native American tribal governments jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute incidents of violence, in addition to providing grants to assist tribes in prosecuting such crimes.  Yet H.R. 4970 does not adequately address these concerns by not including any of these provisions in the legislation.  Such crass indifference makes this legislation impossible to support.

The path forward to reauthorize VAWA is clear.  The Senate sent a clear message by passing a strong, bipartisan bill, and the House should do the same.  We need to stop fighting these needless partisan battles and instead come together to reauthorize a program which has worked so well over the years.  H.R. 4970 passed the House of Representatives without my support on May 16, 2012, by a vote of 222-204.  You can rest assured that I will continue to fight for a fair and just reauthorization of VAWA that protects all women in this country.

Again, thank you for being in touch.  For news on current federal legislative issues, please visit my website at www.house.gov/dingell; you can also sign up there to receive my e-newsletter.  In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me again if I may be of assistance with this or any other matter of concern.

With every good wish,

John Dingell
Member of Congress

Keeper of the Lore

“If you have ever been called defiant, incorrigible, forward, cunning, insurgent, unruly, rebellious, you’re on the right track. If you have never been called a defiant, incorrigible, impossible woman… have faith… there is yet time.” — Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Estés’ Women Who Run With the Wolves was on the New York Times Best Seller list for 145 weeks!

This blogger is speechless!

AAUW Criticizes Today’s Procedural Defeat of the Paycheck Fairness Act
Senate Misses Opportunity to Support Women’s Economic Security

WASHINGTON – The American Association of University Women (AAUW) sharply criticized today’s procedural defeat of the Paycheck Fairness Act by a 52-47 vote in the U.S. Senate. The Senate’s rejection of the bill comes after the House of Representatives voted 233-180 against considering the Paycheck Fairness Act last week, despite widespread support of the legislation from the White House and many ordinary Americans committed to basic fairness and equality. The bill was introduced by the Senate’s trailblazing dean of women, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). The House version was introduced by longtime equal pay champion Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).

“This was a missed opportunity for the Senate to do the right thing for women and the nation,” said AAUW Executive Director Linda D. Hallman, CAE. “When women are paid less, it hurts them and their families, and it undermines the U.S. economy. How lawmakers can turn down this commonsense economic policy is truly a mystery.”

By some estimates, women could lose up to $1 million over a 40-year career because of the pay gap. In higher-paying fields such as law, the disparity can result in even greater lifetime losses. Individual choices can affect the gender pay gap, but these choices are not the whole story — and, of course, these “choices” themselves are constrained by stereotype and discrimination. AAUW’s report Behind the Pay Gap controlled for factors known to affect earnings such as education and training, parenthood, and hours worked and found that college-educated women still earn less than men — despite having the same major and occupation as their male counterparts.

“Equal pay should not be a partisan issue. In fact, before the Senate took up the Paycheck Fairness Act in 2010, equal pay was something on which we could all agree. Previous bills brought to the floor with the goal of equal pay for equal work passed with bipartisan votes — until now.” said Lisa Maatz, AAUW director of public policy and government relations. “Women feel the sting of unfair pay all the time — at the grocery store, at the gas station, and in retirement. This isn’t political to them; it’s just common sense. And it’s that kind of kitchen-table economics that women will take with them to the polls in November.”

The Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 3220) would have deterred wage discrimination by closing loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and barring retaliation against workers who disclose their wages to co-workers. Currently, employers can penalize and even fire employees for talking about their salaries.

As fair pay icon Lilly Ledbetter said on AAUW Dialog, “Giving women my Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act without the Paycheck Fairness Act is like giving them a nail without the hammer.”

AAUW is widely credited with keeping pay equity on the nation’s radar. Behind the Pay Gap redefined the debate on pay equity and reenergized the drive to pass needed pay equity legislation. This leadership helped to set the stage for the adoption of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in January 2009, the first major piece of legislation signed into law by President Barack Obama.