Pay Equity Coalition: With Job Creation, Increase Access for Women
Monday, December 20, 2021
Many backers of the bipartisan infrastructure package hail the number of jobs it's supposed to create - an average of 1.5 million jobs annually for 10 years. Advocates for equal pay say as those jobs roll out, it's important to make sure women and people of color get access to them.
Wendy Chun-Hoon, director of the Women's Bureau at the U.S. Department of Labor, said women and especially women of color often are often in the lowest-paid jobs - although they're some of the most important, like child care and elder care.
"We have to address raising both wages in these underpaid jobs, undervalued jobs, because of long-held structural racism and sexism in our country," said Chun-Hoon. "And we have to increase the number of women who are in some of these higher-paying jobs."
Fewer than 4% of specialized jobs in construction and extraction fields are filled by women. Chun-Hoon noted the Women's Bureau has a grants program, called "Women in Apprenticeship and Non-Traditional Occupations," to expand women's pathways to these careers.
Sasha Goodfriend - executive director of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Organization for Women - noted the Commonwealth's equal-pay law means employers cannot request information about a person's past salary before making an offer, and they cannot retaliate against workers for discussing their pay.
She urged workers to have those conversations.
"Before this law, you could be fired for sharing what your salary was," said Goodfriend. "And so, I know it's uncomfortable, because we've been taught that it's not something we're supposed to talk about."
Celia J. Blue, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Women of Color Coalition, said it's also important to be educated about your industry.
"There's so many tools out there today, that you could easily find out what is your industry, what's the average pay, what's the range?" said Blue. "Arm yourself with [that], going into any job, or even if you're already in the job."
Fact Sheet: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal The White House 11/6/21
H.R.3684 - Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act the U.S. Congress 2021
Learn more details about the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act Mass.gov 2021
WANTO Grant Program the U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau 2021
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