The ramifications of unequal pay impacted both my maternal and paternal grandmothers leaving scars that would be passed on to three generations. I guess the initial bond that ties my parents together is that single mothers raised them both.
My maternal grandmother, Velma, and paternal grandmother, Idell, did everything society told them to do to ensure a secure future for themselves: get married, have children, work hard and you will be ok. Society did not offer them a viable backup plan when both lost their husbands, one through death and the other through divorce.
My grandmothers struggled daily to sustain a life for their families. As a result, I grew up with a keen awareness of women needing equal pay.
Then, several years ago, a manager who I reported to pulled me aside to inform me that I had a significant wage gap from my male peers. It was so low that when he maxed out my pay increase, it still did not close the gap. He gave me his full commitment that he would continue to max out my increases year after year, until he eliminated the gap.
I was shocked to learn about the pay gap. Yet, I was honored at the compassion and integrity of my manager. He kept his word. At this time I became a huge advocate for equal pay.
One day while reading The Huffington Post, I read the article about Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett where she discussed the wage gap and said, “there should be an app for that.” She announced the United States Department of Labor Equal Pay App Competition hosted by Challenge.gov.
Having worked as a Systems Analyst I had the skill set to design software. My husband, Kenneth, is a software engineer. In the name of my grandmothers, and for the women and children with life happening and no one listening, I had been called.
When I learned about the challenge, I thought about what happened to me. I thought about my grandmothers and decided it was time to act. I do not want the wage gap eliminated tomorrow, I want it eliminated yesterday.
“There comes a time when a person must rise to big challenges of their generation. For me, I consider it the wage gap, and access to equal opportunities at all career levels. We must address it. We must close it. We must end it. We cannot pass on this legacy to another generation.”
There comes a time when a person must rise to big challenges of their generation. For me, I consider it the wage gap, and access to equal opportunities at all career levels. We must address it. We must close it. We must end it. We cannot pass on this legacy to another generation.
Competing against teams from Carnegie Mellon and MIT, we won the Grand Prize and Women Innovation Mobile award in the Equal Pay App Competition. Thanks to President Obama signing the Open Data Initiatives Act, for the first time factual data on salary by location is publicly available.
Now, using Aequitas – our Career Management Mobile Cloud App – I want users to take control of their career management process. Using the app, people can now access occupational salary data by geographical location. (Hint: do not go lower than the median.)
Users can also view our highest recommended content publishers (for example, TheMuse) for intel on careers. Then, users can create a resume by dictation or data entry and view their job matches. (You can upload an existing resume too.) If you need a resume review, we can help with that, too.
Aequitas allows users to search and apply for jobs using their iPhone and will support Android soon. If you have a missing skill set for a job, you can add it to your career goals. Thus far, response has been very favorable from the beta users of Aequitas v2.0.
With Aequitas, I want to end the wage gap in seven years and see at least a 40% rise in the amount of women and minorities at all career levels, including leadership positions. The two biggest roadblocks for equal pay are unconscious bias and lack of knowledge.
Some people do not realize they are “low-balling” a person solely on their gender, race or sexual orientation. (Unfortunately, there is a wage gap in the LGBT community as well.) Many make up excuses such as assume women make less because they do not attempt to negotiate, they work less, their job is not as risky, they do not travel as much, etc. But the fact is they have the same qualifications and the same job deliverables.
This should be a topic of discussion at home and with friends too. We must make a conscious decision to do it.
For those already in leadership positions, I challenge you to look at the educational background of your team. If there is a woman or minority on your team with good job reviews and with an MBA – personally check in with them.
They probably earned an MBA hoping it would propel their career into a leadership position. Has it?
Joyce Martell contributed to this piece.
- Here’s Why the Success of Business Lies in Gender Equality
- The Gender Wage Gap: What To Do If You Think You Aren’t Being Paid Fairly
- Can Chivalry and Equality Co-exist?
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