Closing in on the Pay Gap

A woman behind a podium speaks, with leaders from AAUW and the Boston mayor’s office standing behind her.

AAUW Chief Executive Officer Linda D. Hallman speaks at the AAUW Work Smart launch in Boston.

December 09, 2015

Boston could be the first city to close the gender pay gap. At least that’s Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s goal, and it might just be possible, thanks to AAUW.

In October, the mayor, the city’s Office of Women’s Advancement, and AAUW leaders announced an ambitious initiative to offer free AAUW Work Smart salary negotiation trainings to half of Boston’s working women in the next five years. That means training 85,000 women to negotiate higher salaries and better benefits — and making a dent in the gender pay gap, which stands nationally at 21 percent.

Women working full time in the United States typically are paid just 79 percent of what men are paid, and it’s even worse for most women of color. The gender pay gap starts just one year out of college, and it only widens over the course of a career.

One of the many ways that AAUW is fighting the pay gap is by empowering women to negotiate for what they’re worth. That’s why, in 2014, AAUW acquired the Start Smart and Work Smart salary negotiation programs, which focus on college women and working women, respectively, from collaborator WAGE Project.

AAUW Start Smart is designed for college students who are about to enter the job market, and AAUW members have been putting on these workshops for years. AAUW Work Smart is for women who are already working, and it’s now available for AAUW members to get involved in presenting. Both workshops have been completely redesigned using the latest research and negotiation strategies so that participants will leave with the skills and confidence to successfully navigate the complexities of job offers and promotions.

Now with AAUW at the helm of both programs, so many more women across the country will have access to the workshops, including women on dozens of college campuses who will attend AAUW Start Smart and women in Boston — and nationally — who will get training through AAUW Work Smart.

“I am thrilled to partner with AAUW to offer these workshops to the working women of Boston,” says Mayor Walsh. “The AAUW workshops are the next step in giving women the tools they need to compete in today’s economy. When women succeed, our businesses, our communities, and our city succeeds.”

Other cities are interested in following Boston’s lead, according to AAUW Senior Program Manager Jesse Rauch. “It’s exciting to think about what these collaborations could mean for the future,” he says. “Support for programs like these workshops translates directly into more dollars in the pockets of working women. There are not many programs that can do that. We have the chance here to effect meaningful change.”

AAUW Work Smart and AAUW Start Smart will continue to fight the gender pay gap, but only with strong backing from advocates who want to make economic security accessible for all women.

To support AAUW’s salary negotiation programs, please give to the AAUW Fund.

 This story was written for the 2015 AAUW annual report by Beth Pearsall.

By:   |   December 09, 2015


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