Updated census data on the gender pay gap was released in September. Women now earn 79 cents for each dollar earned by men, a one cent increase from last year. Women in our congressional district earn even less than this national average, and face the highest pay gap in Colorado. Here, women earn less than 75 cents for each dollar earned by men.
Unfortunately it is a common misperception that the gender pay gap can be solely attributed to women working less than men. An extensive body of research supports the reality of a gender pay gap unexplained by hours worked, education or occupation.
Gender bias often leads people to select male job candidates, regardless of qualifications. Gender bias often means women are paid less than men doing the same work. Research from Yale, Columbia, Northwestern, University of Chicago, the AMA, and many other institutions and organizations is available on the website of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), which has advocated for pay equity since 1894.
AAUW provides advocacy, programs and funding to help women enhance their earning potential even though the pay gap exists. AAUW is a strong advocate of reproductive choice and access to family planning, which allows women to pursue education and careers. AAUW’s STEM programs encourage girls and women to consider careers that provide higher incomes. AAUW offers salary negotiation workshops to teach women how to negotiate the best first salary as this is the foundation on which future raises are based. AAUW awarded $3.7 million in fellowships and grants to support women in their professional and academic careers in 2015. AAUW continues to urge Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. Until Congress acts AAUW will work at the state level to pass fair pay legislation, one state at a time.
The Durango branch of AAUW funds scholarships at Fort Lewis College and partners with FLC to send women students to a national leadership conference each year. AAUW has worked to improve the lives of women and families since 1881.
Donna Nelson, public policy chair
Durango branch AAUW