University educates women on equality in workforce

Published: March 24, 2016


Staff Writer

The University held the $tart $mart workshop, geared toward college-aged women, in The Patrick and Margaret DeNaples Center on March 15th.

Justine Johnson, facilitator of the workshop and director of the Jane Kopas Women’s Center, said the workshop helps women confidently ask employers to be paid their worth. The workshop, created by the American Association of University Women, included information about the gender pay gap, steps to negotiate a salary and the benefits of negotiating, she said.

“People assume the money they’re offered is what they will get,” Johnson said.

The program was geared toward women, Johnson said, because women are less likely to actually ask for a higher salary.

“Men ask for compensation and benefits quicker than women,” Johnson said. “You’re not just negotiating your salary you’re negotiating your life, too.”

The negotiation process is only part of the problem, Johnson said. For every dollar a man is paid, a white woman is paid 79 cents, an African-American woman is paid 64 cents, and a Hispanic woman just 54 cents, Johnson said.

“I would encourage people to read their policies. Ask what does this position look like in 3, 5, 10 years,” she said.

Jean Harris, Ph.D., a professor in the political science department at The University, said she hopes the gender pay gap can be fixed. The law that calls for equal pay has some loop holes in it, so there is a way for employers to pay less than they should, she said.

“There have been efforts in Congress, specifically Senate, even before Hilary Clinton was in the senate, but she also participated to close loop holes,” Harris said.

Harris said even increasing the minimum wage would benefit women, and the economy as a whole, since a higher percentage of minimum wage workers are women.

“It is a really big issue that government officials should be paying attention to,” Harris said.

Deb Roney, Pennsylvania college and university liaison for the American Association of University Women, said in an email that AAUW is trying to get more student participants. There are a total of 47 colleges and universities in Pennsylvania that are partner members of AAUW, she said, and ten schools that have AAUW Student Organizations.

Roney said AAUW does more than just advocate for pay equality. Student affiliates for AAUW deal with many issues such as sexual harassment, domestic violence, body image, etc., Roney said.

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