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Working for Gender Pay Equity in Seattle

What's happening now: Paid Parental Leave

The United States is one of only eight countries, out of 188 that have known policies, without paid leave. Source: "Children's Chances: How Countries Can Move From Surviving to Thriving" by Jody Heymann With Kristen McNeill

Tuesday, April 7 at 10:15am the Gender Pay Equity Committee for Seattle City Council passed a 4 week paid parental leave policy for City employees. The 4 weeks of leave may be utilized at any time during the first year of welcoming a new child, age 18 and under, into a City Employee's home, whether that child is adopted, fostered or the City employee gives birth to a newborn. Men and women will have equal access to the leave.

Why is this important for gender pay equity? Paid parental leave has been shown both to protect women's wages and keep them in the workforce after giving birth. A study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research of California's ten-year old statewide parental leave benefit found that the benefit led to new mothers returning to work at a higher rate and earning higher incomes over time. Additionally, according to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, paid maternity leave is correlated with an increase in the working hours of mothers with one to three year old children, and, thus, with a likely increase in their earnings.

Another aspect of this issue which is less widely talked about is that a parental leave policy could help to level parenting expectations for men and women by supporting men taking time off to bond with and care for a child. This would benefit women by reducing the tendency for both employers and families to prioritize men's careers, since women are widely seen as having a greater obligation for child care.

Paid parental leave is the right thing to do, but it also is a critical step towards gender pay equity. Seattle is the first municipality in the region with paid parental leave but we don't want to be the last. Use this "How to" sheet to develop a paid parental leave policy for your City government.

The Gender Pay Gap Has Barley Budged in 30 Years.

The wage gap is closing at less than half a cent per year since the Equal Pay Act was signed in 1963, the wage gap has been closing at a very slow rate. In 1963, women who worked full-time, year-round made 59 cents on average for every dollar earned by men. Today, nationally, women earn 78 cents for every dollar a man makes. Over the 47 years an average American works before retirement, the real median earnings of women have fallen short by an estimated $700,000 for a high school graduate, $1.2 million for a college graduate, $2 million for a professional school graduate.

The gender pay gap has been closing very slowly. And even when younger women enter the workforce with a narrower gap, over time they end up making around 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.

Women Will Not Achieve Wage Parity with Men Until 2058

Over the 47 years an average American works before retirement, the real median earnings of women have fallen short by an estimated $700,000 for a high school graduate, $1.2 million for a college graduate, $2 million for a professional school graduate.

You Can Do Something. Take Action.

Gender pay equity lies in everyone's hands. Government policy and business alone cannot overcome the wage gap. Be informed about your workplace and help us achieve wage equity.

  1. Be informed. Use sites like GlassDoor to know the competitive wage for your job title.
  2. Negotiate your wage and encourage other women to do the same.
  3. Support young women interested in STEM and support STEM programs for women.
  4. Recognize that the quality of hours worked is more important than the number of hours logged. The workplace should be about results, and work schedules can be flexible to accommodate family schedules.
  5. Make networking and work events accessible to working parents who may not have free time in the evenings.
  6. Encourage men to take paid parental leave when welcoming a new child into the home.
  7. Mentor a woman interested in your field.
  8. Join the 100% Talent Compact.

Bring Paid Parental Leave to Your City
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