Pittsburgh Fights for Equal Pay

posted by Marisa Pereira Tully

April 17, 2012 marked the day to which a woman had to work in order to equal a man’s earnings for 2011. Equal Pay Day, as it’s called, brings attention to the enduring disparity between men’s and women’s wages in our country. Following decades of advancements in opportunities and increasing prominence of women in the media, it can be forgotten that large inequalities still very much exist. On average a woman is paid 77.4% of what a man earns. Over a lifetime, lost wages can total in the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. If the gap continues to close at its current rate, women’s earnings will not reach men’s until the year 2075.

Here in Pittsburgh two groups, the Council of the City of Pittsburgh and a team from Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College, recently took up the challenge to combat this inequality.

On Equal Pay Day, Councilmembers Bill Peduto and Natalia Rudiak sponsored a resolution authorizing an audit of compensation, hiring, and advancement practices for City employees with the express purpose of identifying any discrimination. Such an act not only serves to expose any unfair treatment, it also signals the commitment of our City government for wage equality. The resolution comes in response to a 2009 audit commissioned by former Councilmember Doug Shields which found clear examples of wage discrimination, political decision-making, and barriers to advancement in the City workforce. Councilmembers Peduto and Rudiak hope to learn whether the City has made progress in correcting these disparities and what work still needs to be done.

Over at CMU, a group of graduate students and professors teamed up to compete in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Equal Pay App Challenge. The Challenge asked competitors to increase awareness of the issue, make data more accessible, and provide tools for users to combat the wage gap in their own lives. Under the leadership of Professor Linda Babcock, noted gender and negotiation expert, the team (of which this author was a part) created a website that combined a personalized salary calculator with tips and training in negotiation. The website won the Grand Prize as well as the Excellence in Non-Profit Award. To check out the Heinz submission and get your own personalized salary comparison, go to closethewagegap.com.

This entry was posted on Friday, April 27th, 2012 at 1:48 pm and is filed under Hiring Based on Merit, Implementing Professional Management Systems, Opening Government's Books, Strengthening the Ethics Code, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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