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Equal Pay: It's More Than Just Salary Negotiation

Women on a panel discussion
Mary Cullen
From left, Pam Cooper, Jenn Carrillo, Kyle Ciani, Ann Perry sat on an equal pay panel hosted by Rachel Hatch (right) in the Illinois State University Student Bone Center on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019.

Illinois State University's College of Arts and Sciences in partnership with YWCA McLean County and the League of Women Voters hosted an equal pay panel Thursday in response to the ongoing call for gender equality.

The Pew Research Center estimates that the average woman in 2018 made 85 cents for every dollar that her white male counterpart with the same responsibilities and qualifications made. That includes female-dominated fields like teaching and nursing. The gap is even larger for women of color.

The World Economic Forum estimates that if there is no change in the trajectory, gender equality will not happen for another 208 years.

"We have to show up at the table with 150% plus some."

Those were some of the statistics discussed at Thursday's equal pay panel discussion.

Ann Perry is a human resources professional who sat on the panel.

“It’s all about you selling your experiences and actually having the courage and the (bravery) just to ask for what you think you deserve,” Perry said.

Perry said organizations across the country are looking for the best person to fill an open position. She said being that best person affords you the ability to negotiate your salary.

Pam Cooper was also a panelist. She’s the director of ISU’s career center. She said when she entered the workforce, she made $1.12 an hour scooping ice cream.

“I bet the young men who were working next to me, and I didn’t know to ask the question, ‘How much did they make?’ But I bet they made more,” Cooper said. “But I didn’t know. I didn’t know to ask. I didn’t know to negotiate. I didn’t know those things. And I think that young people today will know those things, and so it will get better.”

But Cooper said that pay negotiation is only part of the equation. It’s also about battling the already existent stereotypes about women in the office.

Jenn Carrillo raises hand
Credit Mary Cullen / WGLT
Jenn Carrillo asks if any women in attendance have asked what their coworkers' pay is, and is met with silence.

“We have to show up at the table with 150% plus some,” she told the crowd.

Anne Perry agreed. She said women need to stop letting coworkers assign them tasks like note taker and errand runner.

She said to see change, women have to collectively push for equal pay.

Other panelists included Jenn Carrillo, Bloomington City Council member, and Kyle Ciani, ISU associate professor of history.

WGLT's full report from the event.

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