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¿Qué Pasa, USA?  Latinas: Wage Gap & Poverty

Posted by Crystal Williams on April 8, 2014

Living below the poverty level is the harsh reality for over 40% of Latina-headed households, according to the National Partnership for Women & Families “Latinas and the Wage Gap”.  The disparity in earnings is crushing their families: Latinas working full time earn an average of 54 cents for every dollar that a white, non-Hispanic man makes.  The lower wages also affects 40% of the married Latinas who bring in half or more of the household income.  In some states the pay gap is wider and thus more painful, as in New Jersey where they typically earn a meager 43 cents for every dollar their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts are paid.  How does your state  and  Congressional District rank?

Women on average earn 77 cents for every dollar paid to men (a recent report states that women working for the Obama Administration are paid less than 87 cents for every dollar that their male co-workers make).  However, Latinas are making less, as noted below by Catalyst, based on information from the Bureau of Labor:



California, the state with the largest Latino residents, Latinas comprise 37% of the female population and make up 54% of the women living in poverty – which typically means also having the least amount of education.  In a state where female immigrants outnumber the men, The Economic Status of Latinas report has outlined economic policy recommendations to assist communities achieve equality by, among many suggestions, providing job development training, reviewing the existing wage gap and ensuring that Latinas are paid fairly for their work, increasing grants for female students seeking higher education and creating retirement programs for all income levels.  The report further states “despite many opportunities for improvement, current trends demonstrate that Latinas are positioned to have increasingly stronger impacts on political, business, education and government sectors across the state and the nation.”

In the Economic Status of Women of Color, the Department of Labor estimates that throughout a Latina’s lifetime, the difference in pay amounts to about $854,000.  This loss of income affects their household as there is less money available for education, food, housing, childcare, and other basic necessities.  It is an economic issue that affects the entire family.


Due to the loss of income created by the disparity in salaries, Latinas will likely collect less from Social Security and  pensions (if available), have less investments and money in the bank for their retirement years.


“Marta gets her Master’s  and lost her Mister

Cultural differences exist for some first generation U.S. Latinas entering the workforce and seeking higher education, as noted in Episode 12 (Juana Gets Smart) of ¿Qué Pasa, U.S.A.?a bilingual situation comedy about a multi-generation Cuban-American family living in Little Havana (Miami, Florida), and filmed in the late 1970’s.  This particular program pokes fun at the “machismo” mentality of the stereotypical (and old fashioned) Hispanic male.  Juana is encouraged by her boss to attend night school and acquire accounting skills in order to be promoted to bookkeeper.  The new position would come with a pay raise – she would now make more money than her husband, Pepe.  When Juana announces that she will be going to night school to get her bookkeeping certification, her father informs her that “Marta got her Master’s and lost her Mister“.   Juana’s parents live with her, Pepe and their two teenage children.  She persisted, received her certification and salary increase and as an added bonus, in the process started a paradigm shift in the Latino community.

College educated Latinas are also facing the wage gap, as noted in a study by NerdScholar.  About 2 million women earned a degree of higher education in 2010 versus 1.3 million men, but they are earning 82% of what men earn, according to NerdScholar.  Another study conducted by Ohio State University and co-authored by Professor Rachel Dwyer, finds that “at least early in their careers, women suffer more than men if they don’t have a college degree”.  Well, Marta, looks like you better go for that Master’s degree after all.

Education matters, as the research from “The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap” demonstrates:


Education helps close the pay gap, but it isn’t the whole story.

Women are Economic Assets

Women are the most underutilized economic asset in the world’s economy,” says Angel Gurría, the secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.  We live in the richest, most powerful country on earth.  Immigrant families, like mine and millions others, risk their lives, they leave behind their loved ones and their homeland, for the promise of a better life.  Why?  Because this is the land of opportunity.  We are here to work hard, make sacrifices and provide our children and future generations with the American dream.  We can bolster the economy if and when we are paid fair wages.

Latinas are making decisions for major purchases in their homes, Nielsen says in their Latina Power Shift report.  We (Hispanics) are 52 million strong and have a collective purchasing power of $1.2 trillion.  According to Nielsen’s research “Hispanic women are a key growth engine of the U.S. female population and are expected to become 30 percent of the total female population by 2060.”  Apparently marketers are closely following our purchasing habits and they now realize that we are the driving force in our homes.

As we pursue higher education and some of us become “empresarias” (entrepreneurs), we need to have our voices heard (with our votes) and push legislators to make serious economic policy changes so we can all live the beautiful American dream.

Let’s eliminate the rampant wage disparities.  So I ask, ¿Qué Pasa, USA?

VBO CroppedVilma Betancourt-O’Day is the 2013 Co-Secretary of Metropolitan Business and Professional Women North Carolina and founder of Women Wrule, Mujeres Mandan, an organization focusing on helping Women and Minority Owned Micro and Small Businesses achieve M/W/SBE Certifications and grow their business through Government Contracting and Supplier Diversity Programs.  She is a Cuban exile and Naturalized US Citizen;  her husband, children, grandchildren and Shih Tzu, Cocoa Chanel, rock her world.






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Equal Pay Act is 50 Years Old

Posted by YWM on June 10, 2013

President John F. Kennedy signs the 1963 Equal Pay Act into law as BPW/USA president Dr. Minnie Miles watches.

President John F. Kennedy signs the 1963 Equal Pay Act into law as BPW/USA president Dr. Minnie Miles watches.

50 years ago today, President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law and BPW was there.  BPW/USA President, Dr. Minne Miles (second from the right)  attended the event and received one of the signing pens.  She would be surprised that 50 years later there is still work to be done to close the wage gap.

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Equal Pay For All or At Least the Blondes

Posted by YWM on July 31, 2012

Our guest blogger today is Danielle Eisner, a small business owner in South Carolina and a member of BPW/Breakfast of Spartanburg, SC.  This blog is adapted from a speech she gave March 24, 2012 for the BPW/South Carolina Young Careerist competition. We congratulate Danielle on being selected South Carolina’s 2012 Young Careerist. 

 Equal Pay For All

My name is Danielle Eisner and I own a wedding venue in Spartanburg, SC.  Business has been good, so I would like to hire ALL of you ladies out there to help me work the wedding events.  Champagne and wedding cake for everyone!  BUT, since I am blonde and rumor has it that blondes have more fun, I am going to pay my blonde employees more than my brunette employees.  Now, now brunettes, I don’t care how many weddings you’ve attended in the past, or if you were the life of the party in college – in my mind, none of that qualifies you to earn as much as the blondes.  And since I’m the owner of the business, I can make the rules and pay y’all whatever I want, even if you’re doing the exact same job.

 Sound ridiculous?

Well, it is ridiculous.  It is ridiculous that two people can be paid different wages for the same work. And gender or race (or hair color) most certainly should not determine a person’s salary.  The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, making it illegal for employers to pay unequal wages to men and women who perform the same work.  Back then, women earned 59 cents to every dollar earned by men.  In 2009, the gap narrowed to 77%.  I suppose we should be thrilled with our “raise”, earning 77 cents to every dollar a man makes in the same job.  But the fact is women are still being discriminated against in the workplace.  And the wage gap is even greater for minorities, with African American women earning 69% of men and Latina women earning only 59% of men in the workplace[1].

SO, how do we change this?  Education is the number one tool we have in this fight against pay discrimination against women and minorities.  We need to make everyone aware about pay inequity – women AND men, business owners, managers AND workers.  The more we talk about the issue, the more support and momentum we can gain, and hopefully we can forge some REAL change, both legislatively and in actual business practices.

We all took a first step by joining a women-focused professional organization. Business and Professional Women’s Foundation empowers working women to achieve their full potential, and creates Successful Workplaces which value the skills of working women and practice work/life balance, equity and diversity.  By introducing new women to BPW, we can educate and empower other women in the workforce.

We need to encourage every working woman (and sympathetic man) we know to contact our local legislators to tell them how important equal pay is to us.  We should ask them to sign a Fair Pay Pledge, indicating that they will support pay equality legislation (including the Paycheck Fairness Act) and they will ensure pay equity practices in their own businesses.

We should support and encourage participation in local activities on Equal Pay Day.  Equal Pay Day was started in 1996 as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men’s and women’s wages[1].  This year Equal Pay Day was Tuesday, April 17.  Because women earn less, on average, than men, they must work longer for the same amount of pay, and April 17th symbolized how far into 2012 women needed to work to earn what men earned in 2011.   Equal Pay Day events are used to educate the community that Equal Pay isn’t just a “women’s issue”, but it’s a “business issue” too and the pay disparities effects the economic stability of the entire community.

On behalf of BPW, let’s bring “The Wage Project workshops to our local community.  Did you know that year out of college; women working full-time earn only 80% as much as their male colleagues[1]?  That wage gap will only increase, and that girl has the potential to earn roughly 1 million dollars less than a man over the course of her career.  Smart Campus Negotiation Workshops provide college women the knowledge and skills to negotiate salaries and benefits.  The Wage Project also offers salary negotiation workshops for working women and women returning to the workforce.

Lastly, we should each encourage our OWN places of employment to do a Workplace Pay Audit to discover if discrimination is happening in our own backyard. Let’s try to make some real changes at the local level.  Employers play a major role in ending the wage gap and treating women fairly in the workplace.  BPW has an Employer Pay Equity Self-Audit tool on its website to help businesses do a self-evaluation of their recruitment and promotion processes, and to help establish consistent and fair pay practices for all workers.

Achieving pay equity is within our reach.  Together, we can educate the public and with more voices we can make a difference.

You can learn more about Danielle Eisner and her business  by visiting her website http://www.duncanestate.com/ or her Facebook page www.Facebook.com/Duncan.Estate.SC

Posted in Equal Pay, Equal Pay Day, Misbehavin' Notification, Pay Equity, Uncategorized, Wage Gap | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Participate in the Equal Pay App Challenge!

Posted by egehl on February 27, 2012

Spread the word to your family, friends, and colleagues about the new Equal Pay App Challenge!

The National Equal Pay Task Force at the Department of Labor wants your help in building innovative tools to educate the public about the pay gap and promote equal pay for women.

On average women are still paid less than their male counterparts for doing comparable jobs.  This means that each time the average woman starts a new job, she’s likely to start from a lower base salary, but it also means that over time the pay gap between her and her male colleagues is likely to become increasingly wider.  This translates to a woman having less in her weekly paycheck, and thousands of dollars less over her lifetime. For women of color and women with disabilities, this disparity is much larger. 

The App Challenge is asking participants to use publicly available labor data and other online resources to come up with new ways to educate users about equal pay, and to build tools that promote closing the wage gap. 

Each submitted idea should achieve at least one or all of the following goals:

  • Provide greater access to pay data by gender, race, and ethnicity
  • Provide tools for early career coaching
  • Help inform negotiations
  • Promote online mentoring

Now is your opportunity to get your creative juices flowing and come up with innovative ways to support women tackle the ongoing wage gap.

The esteemed group of judges, including Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, will examine each entry for three main things:

How well does the application address at least one of the four goals defined for this challenge; how innovative, interesting, and unique is the application in meeting contest requirements; and does the application present information in a way that is easy for the target audiences to use and is pleasing to the eye?

There are various levels of prizes and if you are a grand prize winner you will receive a scholarship to attend an eight-week immersive program hosted by General Assembly where students will attend hands-on classes that build skills and provide an in-depth overview of topics in digital product innovation and entrepreneurship.

Submissions for the App Challenge can be from an individual or a team. Contestants must register for the contest on Challenge.gov by creating an account between January 31st, 2012, and March 31st, 2012. All entries received after March 31st, 2012 will not be considered for prizes. Registrants will receive an email to verify their account and may then enter their submissions via the “Post a Submission” tab (Submissions).

For more information about the contest and how to apply please visit the Equal Pay App Challenge website.

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Gen Y Women: Is Your Workplace Gender Equitable?

Posted by knbarrett on May 17, 2011

“They offered you what???” The voices in my head competed for the tone with which to deliver my question.  As my then fiancé excitedly shared the details of the compensation package he had just been offered, I could barely muster a “that’s great.” I should have been jumping up and down, right? That money would soon be flowing into our joint bank account. Instead, I was furious.

You see, my fiancé and I graduated from the same school with the same major. After graduation, we entered the same industry and were hired for same type of position.  There was one big difference . . . our starting salaries. I was offered 29 percent less than him.  Unfortunately, my experience is not so different from other Gen Y women. A recent study found that the average starting salary of a new female college graduate is 17 percent lower that her male counterpart.

Pay inequity is just one form of gender discrimination. Research on gender in the workplace consistently indicates that gender is an accurate predictor of occupation, pay and career progress. Further, men and women are often treated differently at work even when formal employment barriers are removed.

As a Gen Y woman, I want to believe that gender discrimination is on the decline. However, my workplace expectations often do not match my workplace experiences. When this happens, I struggle with feeling “whiny” for pointing out gender bias. After all, my experience is so much better than that of my mother or grandmother at my age. The bias may be different but it’s no less real. Just because the workplace is getting better, it doesn’t mean that the workplace is gender neutral much less equitable. I’ve learned that one of the most important steps in addressing gender inequities is indentifying them and understanding their underlying factors.

How about you, how has gender affected your workplace experiences and opportunities? If you are a Gen Y woman (born 1978-1994), BPW Foundation wants to better understand your perspectives on gender in the workplace.

  • How important is gender equity in the workplace to you?
  • To what extent is gender discrimination a problem in today’s workplace?
  • Based on your experience and observations, what are the most prevalent forms of discrimination facing women in the workplace?
  • What can employers do to promote a more gender equitable workplace?

Please share your thoughts and experiences by taking our online survey. The survey will remain open until Tuesday, May 31st at midnight. Don’t miss the chance to let your voice be heard!

Posted in Equal Pay, Gen Y, Gen Yner, Pay Equity, Research, Uncategorized, Wage Gap | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Huffington Post: On Equal Pay Day, Step Up or Step Out of the Way

Posted by deborahfrett on April 12, 2011

According to the last study by the National Center for Educational Statistics:

  • Female high school graduates are more likely than male graduates to have taken geometry, algebra II, pre-calculus, biology, and chemistry.
  • Females are more likely than their male classmates to participate in music or performing arts, belong to academic clubs, work on the school yearbook or newspaper, or participate in student government.

Last month, The White House’s Women in America Report noted that those trends continue in college:

  • Greater percentages of females attend college.
  • Females are more likely to attend and graduate from college without dropping out.
  • Females are more likely to earn a graduate school degree.

And the 2010 “Women in the Labor Force: A Databook,” compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reflects similar developments in the workforce:

  • Women account for 51 percent of all people employed in management, professional, and related occupations, somewhat more than their share of total employment (47 percent).
  • The increase in female managers coming to the table with undergraduate and graduate degrees is greater than the increases in male managers.

So, are you ready for reality?

  • Women earn 77 percent of what men earn.
  • Equal Pay Day, which signifies the point into the year that a woman must work to earn what a man made, falls on Tuesday, April 12 this year.

Wait, what? That’s right; and it’s not what you were expecting, is it?

Equal Pay DayTruth be told, we should expect more for our working women, and they get more. Nearly 50 years ago, when the Equal Pay Act of 1963 brought pay parity for women to the national forefront, critics argued that women simply did not have the same educational background as men, and therefore did not merit the same wages. Well, instead of coming a long way, baby, it seems we have come full circle.

Today’s critics of equal pay argue that men as a group earn higher wages in part because men dominate blue collar jobs, which are more likely to require payments for overtime work. In contrast, women comprise more of the salaried white collar management workforce that is often exempted from overtime laws.

We were told that we didn’t have enough education to merit equal pay then, and now our educational achievements are the cause of the disparity. Corporate America wants it both ways. Last December, the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have toughened legal action against discriminating employers, narrowly failed to pass Congress. With few exceptions, business opposed it, citing that new legislation is unnecessary, redundant, and would simply lead to unfair lawsuits against employers. In a June 21, 2010 letter to U.S. Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag, the Business Roundtable wrote, “The Paycheck Fairness Act … would open companies to potentially crippling employment litigation without adding significant benefit to workers, since current law already addresses the discrimination issue.”

Then why, nearly 50 years later, has the wage gap only improved by only half a cent per year? In 1963, according to the National Committee on Pay Equity, “women working full-time and year-round earned on average 59 cents for every dollar earned by men. A woman now earns 77 cents for every man’s dollar.” At that rate, it will take nearly another half-century for women to earn a fair wage.

In that same time frame, women have made tremendous strides and are more likely than males to enter the workforce with degrees from high school, college, and graduate school. It makes good financial sense for businesses to invest in attracting and retaining the best talent by offering equal and fair compensation and benefits.

It’s time for America’s business community to step up with fair pay, or step out of the way of legislation like the just re-introduced Paycheck Fairness Act that will help ensure pay equity. I urge you, on Equal Pay Day this year, to review your compensation packages and address the inequality. We can help.

BPW Foundation encourages employers to recognize and reward the skills and contributions of working women. The Employer Pay Equity Self-Audit was developed to assist employers in analyzing their own wage-setting policies and establishing consistent and fair pay practices for all. It can be found on the BPW Foundation website:

It’s the right thing to do for your employees. It’s the smart thing to do for your business.

Don’t let another year go by for working women — and their families — who are doing more for less. We held up our end of the bargain and came to the workforce better prepared and more skilled. Now it’s your turn: make sure you offer equal pay for equal work.

First appeared on the Huffington Post, April 11, 2011

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