AAUW of Buffalo hosted a press conference today at BakUSA in the City of Buffalo. They were joined by representatives from the Western New York Women’s Foundation and the Erie County Commission on the Status of Women. The event was held as part of a nationwide effort to secure pay equity for all women, especially those of non-white ethnicities.
Buffalo AAUW numbers among the 1,000 AAUW branches throughout the United States, Guam, and Puerto Rico. For more than 130 years, AAUW members have been working to empower women and girls through advocacy, education, research, and philanthropy. AAUW’s 150,000-strong voice is making a difference on critical women’s and civil rights issues — briefing policy makers, spearheading coalitions, and making an impact on the world through international initiatives and partnerships.
Among the speakers were Ulla Bak (president and co-owner of BakUSA), Patricia Miceli (board member of the AAUW Buffalo Branch), Sheri Scavone (Executive Director of the Western New York Women’s Foundation), Karen King (Director of the Erie County Commission on the Status of Women, Lisa Yeager from the office of NYS legislator Crystal People-Stokes, and Agnes Williams from the Native American community.
The purpose of this specific conference was to highlight the lack of progress in the fight for gender pay equity based on the newly released 2016 census figures. Some of the specific points made were:
- New data revealed what we already know – the gender pay gap is persistent and it’s pernicious. AAUW’s own research report, The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap, demonstrates how much the pay gap impacts women, families, businesses, and the nation’s economy.
- In 2016, women working full time in the United States were paid on average just 80 cents for every dollar men made, a wage gap of 20 percent. In [state], that statistic is [see info here].
- The wage gap is worse for women of color. African American women are paid 63 percent of what white men are paid, while Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander women are paid 59 percent, American Indian and Alaska Native women are paid 57 percent, and Hispanic women or Latinas are paid just 54 percent of what white men are paid.
- At our current rate of progress, the pay gap won’t close until 2119.
- There are actions we can take to make equal pay a reality in our state/community.
- Pay equity is not just a woman’s issue – it affects men, children, families, and our economy. Women are integral to their families’ well-being, the modern day workplace, and to a thriving economy. Pay equity is the key to families making ends meet and moving working families into the middle class. With a record number of women in the workforce and nearly half of women functioning as primary or co-breadwinners for their families, equal pay for women — especially women of color — is critical to families’ economic security.
- Strong legislation is a necessary tool in closing the gender pay gap. If legislators want to stay true to commitments to a strong economy, ensuring women receive equal pay for equal work is a natural place to start.
- More and more states are taking equal pay matters into their own hands and who can blame them for growing weary of waiting for federal action on an issue that clearly has the public’s support and attention. Red, blue, and purple states worked to introduce and pass equal pay legislation that will in turn strengthen their workforce and economy.
- Over 40 states considered equal pay bills during the 2017 legislative session, showing that there is broad demand for action to close the gender pay gap. Specifically, over 25 states considered salary history bills in the 2017 legislative session. This is clearly an issue that resonates with workers and policymakers alike. States and localities that have passed salary history bans: Massachusetts, Oregon, Delaware, and Puerto Rico as well as Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, San Francisco, and New York City.
In addition to the benefits offered by this event, AAUW members enjoy opportunities to network at the local level, sponsor community projects to promote equity, serve in branch leadership positions, and lobby local and state legislators on AAUW priority issues.
“Membership in AAUW offers exceptional tangible and intangible benefits — a strong voice, a vibrant community, relevant information, and valuable resources,” said Christy Jones, AAUW director of membership.