Are you paid what you’re worth?

President Coolidge standing with members of the American Association of University Women on the White House lawn; visible in the background is the White House scaffolded for repairs - image - photographer, unknown, Library of Congress.

Carson City – According to the  American Association of University Women (AAUW), in 2017, women earned a median average of 80 percent of what a man earns for the same work.  Nevada women employed full-time lose a combined total of nearly $5 billion dollars every year to the wage gap. The AAUW also found that 30 percent of women negotiate their salaries compared to 46 percent for men.

To help contend with pay inequity, the AAUW Work Smart program will sponsor a free salary negotiation workshop on Saturday November 10 in Carson City to learn more about the pay gap and how we might fix it, Dr Jennifer Verive, outreach coordinator for the Association of University Women Work Smart program Capital branch and Caroline Punches, president of the Capital branch of the AAUW stopped by the KNVC studios for an interview …

So what is the AAUW?

“AAUW is a long-standing women’s organization.  It was actually founded in 1881 when women who had graduated from college wanted to get together with other graduates and figure out what was going on and what kinds of issues they would face,” said Caroline Punches.  “It has basically lasted that long. Here in the Capital area, we were founded 75 years ago, and we are a women’s organization and we are dedicated to advancing equity for women and girls through research, advocacy and education.”

Twice a year the local AAUW branch offers a workshop called AAUW Worksmart, and the class on November 10 is focused on salary negotiation.

“We all need to get paid what we’re worth,” said Dr Jennifer Verive, outreach coordinator for the Association of University Women Work Smart in Carson City.  “And that’s what we’ve really come to understand, there’s a lot of research, statistics and personal experience, so when you ask a woman, are you paid what you’re worth, the answer is no, and so this workshop is short.  It’s two and a half hours, and women walk away having better skills how to negotiate as well as having lots more confidence.”

The Carson City branch of the AAUW has held a salary negotiation workshop in the past, and the results inspired a redux on November 10.

“There was a woman who attended a workshop in the past, and we saw her a couple months ago, and she had applied for a different job, and she used the skills that she learned in the workshop, and her comment to me was, ‘I finally feel valued,’ which she meant was she was finally getting paid what’s she’s worth, so that’s it in a nutshell” said Caroline Punches.

When asked about Republican candidate for Assembly District 40 Al Kramer’s comment during a recent League of Women Voters forum that there is no factual basis for saying women are paid less than men, Caroline Punches said with no apparent equivocation that the gender pay gap has existed for a very long time and it continues today.

“The pay gap has existed for many years, and it was first realized by the AAUW.  We came across an article, a study that was done in 1896 indicating that women and men, there is a disparity in terms of the pay,” said Punches.  

According to AAUW data 30 percent of women and 46 percent of men negotiate their salaries. What accounts for the difference?

“There’s two things there,” said Jennifer Verive.  “The pay gap, sure, there could be discrimination and bias that absolutely plays a role in that, but in terms of the skills, that’s a little bit different issue.  For women, to negotiate for pay is really different than what we’re raised to do. We call it the double bind. When a woman is assertive and speaks up for herself, a lot of people perceived that as not nice.  And as a woman, if you want to be likable, you’re supposed to be a little quieter, a little reserved and more pleasant, and woman that are not that way, that are more aggressive or assertive are seen as not likable.

“So in a workplace, especially in an interview for a job that’s very important, 27 percent of the households in Nevada are women heads of household, so getting what you need to pay the bills is really important.  Women often have a lot of anxiety about speaking up, so not only do we not know how to do it, we don’t feel comfortable doing it, and this workshop addresses both those issues,” said Dr. Verive.

For more from Caroline Punches and Jennifer Vervire, listen to the audio interview embedded above … for more information on local AAUW workshops, write Jennifer Verive at jmverive@gmail.com