Letter from the CEO – January 2015

Dear AWEE Stakeholders,

It’s no surprise that women make up the largest – and growing – share of the low-wage labor force. A report from the National Women’s Law Center, Underpaid and Overloaded: Women in Low-Wage Jobs, showed that women comprise two-thirds of the low-wage workforce (earning less than $10.10 per hour) despite representing less than half of the workforce overall.

Even within the low-wage workforce, women are paid 13 percent less, or 87 cents on the dollar, according to the report.

This past fall, the American Association of University Women (AAUW), in its publication, The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap, reported that in 2013, women working full time in the U.S. were paid just 78% of what men earned. Surprisingly, Arizona ranked sixth in the average wage gender pay gap based on a difference of $7,263. Louisiana, at $16,453, stood last while the gap in Washington, D.C. the lowest at $5,850.

We teach them to take each challenge as it comes and never lose sight of the ultimate goal.

On the other side of that spectrum, just last week, the Pew Research Center released a new survey that offers a different explanation as to why so few women are in positions of power in business: 1) women are held to higher standards and 2) Americans aren’t ready for female CEOs. (73% of the 1,835 randomly selected adults responding to the survey did say they expect to see a female president in their lifetime.)

The path between low-wage jobs and top-tier executive positions is not easily navigated by any measure. But moving from poverty-scale jobs to those paying healthy wages with reasonable benefits that provide some level of security is achievable with the right tools, resources and personal motivation. At AWEE, we guide our participants along that transition route toward a career pathway through reachable targets supported by education, coaching, mentoring and work readiness.

We teach them to take each challenge as it comes and never lose sight of the ultimate goal.

You might say that also applies to the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), first written by Alice Paul in 1923 and introduced as an amendment to the Constitution in every Congress between that year and 1972 when it passed and was sent to the states for ratification. We’re still waiting.

Sure, 35 states ratified it by 1982, but even today three more are still needed to hit the necessary two-thirds majority. Support from Arizona would cut that magic number to two.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is, like me, hoping things might change sometime soon. “I would like my granddaughters, when they pick up the Constitution, to see that notion – that women and men are persons of equal stature – I’d like them to see that is a basic principle of our society,” she said.

Just having this conversation in the 21st Century seems counterintuitive. And yet, we must keep the discussion alive and continue our efforts to ensure guarantees against sex discrimination, equality in pay and a level playing field for women.

That principle drives what we do every day at AWEE and shapes our business strategy to help more women find jobs with equitable salaries and secure opportunities. During 2015, we will add an exciting new resource to achieve those goals with the launch of the AWEE Women’s Education and Entrepreneur Center (AWEEc). Stay tuned for more details.

Marie A. Sullivan
President & CEO

Letter from the CEO – January 2015