Power of The Purse luncheon addresses pay inequality based on gender

Tuesday, people across the nation and here in our area observed Equal Pay Day. It’s marked on April 14, because this date symbolizes how far into the new year the average American woman would have to work to earn what the average American man did the previous year.

A survey from the Pew Research Center shows women are more likely to interrupt their careers to take care of their families. That has an impact on long-term earnings. Women, as a whole, continue to work in lower-paying occupations than men do. Also, gender discrimination may be responsible for some part of the pay gap. These are all reasons why two local organizations partnered to educate and empower women in the work force.

Long lines, lunch tables, and plenty of purses inside Paducah’s Walker Hall set the scene for a tough talk on pay equity. “Warren Farrell says women need to engineer their own bridge to higher pay, but that will require change, change in how you see yourself,” said Keynote speaker and Baptist Health Paducah COO Bonnie Schrock. She pushed women not to see themselves as victims.

“It’s not about poor me. It’s about…what can I do to help myself get to where I want to be,” said United Way board member Mickey Brown. She worked with Amy Roof from the Paducah River City Business and Professional Women group to fill the hall with people representing businesses and organizations in the community. Roof said, “People were excited, business wanted to help, women leaders wanted to be included, and we have over 200 people here today at the first event.”

Studies show women are breadwinners in four out of 10 households with children under 18. “If they’re earning less, that family is earning less. They’re going to less places and having less experiences. They’re eating less,” said Roof .  That was the reason for the luncheon. 

“Its important to keep this as a topic that we’re aware of. It’s important to make sure women who are doing everything they can to get the job they want and the education they need to get that job are treated fairly,” said Brown.

Research shows the pay gap is most obvious when you consider men and women coming right out of college looking for their first job. With the same degree, men are still making more even in female-dominated fields like nursing.

It is illegal to discriminated against people based on gender in the workplace. That has helped make the pay gap smaller over the last few decades, but organizers said the luncheon was not about politics. It was about raising awareness and empowering women.

The proceeds from the raffle and silent auction will be split between the United Way and the Paducah River City Business and Professional Women group to fund programs specific to education, income, and professional development for women.

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