Whereas the “glass ceiling” refers to the last barriers a woman faces on the corporate ladder, the “sticky floor” refers to the first barriers that women and people of color face when entering the workforce—barriers that often keep them in low-paying, low-prestige, but highly necessary jobs. This special edition of Policy Outsider was recorded at a forum hosted by the Rockefeller Institute of Government and the New York State Council on Women and Girls.


Catherine White Berheide, professor of sociology, Skidmore College and principal investigator, National Science Foundation ADVANCE PAID Grant

Roberta Reardon, commissioner, New York State Department of Labor

Sarah Brafman, staff attorney, A Better Balance

Janice Brown, president, American Association of University Women—New York State

Jill Robbins-Jabine, CEO, YWCA Western New York

Beverly Cooper Neufeld, founder, PowHer New York and president, BCN Consulting Group LLC

  • Transcript

    Transcript was generated using AI software and may contain errors

    Jim Malatras 00:00

    There is no more important issue, I think and how to close the equity gap, especially the pay equity gap in our society. People talk about it all the time. We’ve made a lot of progress in some way. We talk about the 1963 Equal Pay Act, the Lilly Ledbetter Act. The Ninth Circuit just ruled recently, basically saying prior salary history can’t be a way of saying there should be equity gaps. But still, you look at all the maps and gaps remain. In New York, which is better than other states. Often those states to the south of us that are better states, we still have like 80 cents on the dollar what a woman makes versus a man on a similarly situated job. When you talk about it, when you break it down by ethnicity or race, the numbers are even worse. We don’t talk about it in those terms. When you see those numbers. It’s a frightening statistic when you see a Hispanic woman’s 46 cents on the dollar for a similar job.

    Kyle Adams 01:06

    Welcome to a special edition of Policy Outsider from the Rockefeller Institute of Government, where we take you outside the halls of power to understand how public policy shapes our everyday lives. I’m Kyle Adams, communications director at the Rockefeller Institute. Today, we’re bringing you a live recording of the forum from the “Glass Ceiling to the Sticky Floor: Closing the Pay Equity Gap from the Bottom Up,” hosted with the New York State Council on Women and Girls at the Rockefeller Institute. This is a live recording, so please bear with us through the occasional ups and downs in the audio and some references to visual materials. If you’d like to learn more visit rockinst.org for a full video of the forum and more information about the panelists. Now back to the forum where Rockefeller Institute president Jim Malatris is introducing the event.

    Jim Malatras 01:57

    Why we’re all here today as we are joined by some really fabulous people who are going to help talk about these issues, not just how you talk about it, but how do you drive it towards the solution to close those gaps. We’re joined, who’s going to basically emcee the event, by Commissioner Roberta Reardon, who is the commissioner of the State Department of Labor, who needs no introduction, because she is one of the best commissioners of labor we’ve ever had. I want to bring her up. We’re going to get it started with a really fabulous keynote speaker, and then a panel discussion, and we want to hear from them. Then we want to hear from you all about how to work on some of these really important issues. So with no further delay, I’d like to introduce Commissioner Roberta Reardon.

    Roberta Reardon 02:48

    Thank you so much. And thank you Rockefeller Institute and Jim Malatras for having us here today. This is a really exciting conversation that we’re going to have. I was very honored a year ago, the governor charged Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and I to do a study of the pay gap across the state. We held public forums, which many of you attended and testified in. We also held a lot of private conversations across the state. It was really an amazing conversation. We know the statistics that Jim said and it is true for women of color, for different ethnicities. The numbers are tragic. I mean, as tough as it is for a white woman, it is much harder for women of color across the state. We have to make that change. A lot of it is societal norms, things that we just accept. I know we’re going to talk a lot about all of that today. I want to thank the Council on Women and Girls, you are doing amazing work. I’m so proud to be a part of it. I’m so proud to be here with all of you. Jim’s right, we’re here to talk about the issues. But more than that, with the panelists, we’re going to talk about what is our 2019 agenda? What are the policies that the state needs to adopt to begin to change the direction of women’s pay in the state? I urge us, as we talk about what are those policies we want, to think about how do we implement them? Because if we don’t talk about how that happens, how you operationalize that goal, it will not happen. So I urge us to think not just where do we want to get to but how do we want to make that happen? Because that’s really our job. It’s great to be here. I want to introduce now our wonderful guest speaker and I have to say, I put on my glasses because I picked up the page that has the smallest type in the world. It’s tiny and it’s light. Kate Berheide, it’s so wonderful to have you here with us. She is an amazingly accomplished woman. She’s a professor of sociology at Skidmore College and principal investigator for the National Science Foundation Advanced Paid Grant SUNS, Skidmore Union Network, supporting women faculty in STEM at liberal arts colleges. Thank you very much. That is such an important thing to do. I have a niece who’s a STEM kid, she rocks. She’s going to make more money than any of us. Kate earned her doctorate at Northwestern University and did her undergrad work at Beloit. Are you a Midwesterner? Excellent. I’m a Midwesterner too. A sociologist of work, she studied unpaid work in the home and the community in addition to paid work. This is something that we always talk about. Women, it’s not just the pay gap, it’s also the work that we all do without any pay at all. It’s not even considered work half the time. Throughout her career, she has focused largely on women’s work. She’s an author of dozens of journal articles and co-author of three books. During the 1980s and 90s, she collaborated on research projects with the Center for Women In Government at the University of Albany. When the Bush administration asked her to contribute research to the Glass Ceiling Commission, she developed the metaphor of “a sticky floor” to describe the experiences of women and people of color, who are stuck in low paying and dead-end jobs as a counterpoint to the concept of the glass ceiling. That is such an incredible framework of the conversation. Thank you. I’ve adopted that phrase. I use it all the time. It’s wonderful. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has twice named her Carnegie scholar, and many other accolades. Please welcome our keynote speaker Kate Berheide.

    Catherine White Berheide 06:35

    Thank you so much. It’s wonderful to be here with you today. And thank you to all the people who’ve been involved in putting this together. This is such an important topic, I have to say that when I first came to the Albany area, the Capital District area, and started to work on this issue of pay equity along with the many sociologists at the Center for Women In Government, we actually hoped we would have the problem taken care of by this point, I’ve been in the business long enough. You referred to the Equal Pay Act that was passed in 1963. It is really heartbreaking to think that we are 55 years after that and we’re still here talking about this as a very serious issue. As the commissioner said in the introduction, when I began to consult with the people at the Center for Women In Government, we were asked, we did a lot of work on pay equity, particularly for New York State employees. The Bush administration, the first one, came to us and said, “We’d like you to contribute a report to the Glass Ceiling Commission.” And I said, “I don’t do women at the top. I’m really concerned about women feeding their children, women putting a roof over their heads. As serious as the problem is for women who are encountering the glass ceiling, they have food for their kids and a roof over their head.” So my initial reaction was, we can’t do this. But my second thought was, well, the Bush administration needs to hear about poor women. So we countered with an offer to do a piece for them that would look at the problems at the opposite end of the job market. In thinking about that, and you’re going to see I’m a number heavy data oriented person, I don’t usually deal in poetry and metaphor. But as I thought about the glass ceiling, it was really easy to think about what the opposite of the ceiling was, it’s obviously the floor right? But what was the opposite of glass and it was as I thought about what women encountered, and men too, particularly men of color and working class white men encounter, it is being stuck. It is being stuck in dead and low-pay jobs. Hence, I came up with a concept of the sticky floor. What it symbolizes is the first barrier that people encounter when they enter the job market at the bottom. It symbolizes that barrier that keeps them at the bottom of the labor market. While the glass ceiling symbolizes that last barrier, the one that keeps women from reaching that top rung on the management ladder. But for most women, instead of struggling to break into those top positions, they’re more likely just struggling to get out of the bottom ones and into a job that pays sufficiently for their family to have a decent lifestyle. The sticky floor then refers to these low-paying low-prestige, and most importantly, low-mobility jobs typically held by women. You will hear conservatives say, “Oh, those minimum wage jobs, those are just your first job, that’s just the job you have when you’re teenager. You know, you work hard, and you’re going to go on and you’re going to earn more money, so there’s no problem with paying people less than a living wage.” Well, it is a problem if you can’t ever get out of that job or out of jobs that pay that amount of money. What the sticky floor then consists of is these low paying often female dominated occupational categories, such as paraprofessional administrative support, that limit opportunities to be promoted into higher paying positions, because they lack job ladders that allow people to advance in the workplace. One of the things that the Center for Women In Government did in the late 80s and early 90s, was to look at the state workforce in this place to state government workforce, to see how could we create ladders for women to move out of administrative support functions and into staff positions that were professional and would allow them to move up in the state job market?

    Catherine White Berheide 11:26

    The problem is, is there anywhere for women to go from the job they started at. In many cases, it’s not. In many cases, where you begin is where you and your career trajectories determined by your entry level position. So if women and people of color get sorted into different starting places in the job market, they are going to end up largely limited in where they can go. Once women enter an internal labor market at a large company or a major government employer, they are going to find themselves in positions that often are not going anywhere. When these ladders exist at all for these jobs, they start and end at lower levels of the organization than male dominated and mixed gender positions. That then means they have lower promotion rates because there are fewer places to go. As a result, even women who have positions with a clearly defined career path have a lower likelihood of being promoted if they’re in a female dominated job. The first thing I want to do is to say that to achieve pay equity, we have to eliminate the barriers that keep women in positions that do not have job ladders. Of course, the second point is that we need to create job ladders for those positions. Those jobs aren’t going away. If you do a thought experiment and imagine that women stopped doing all the jobs women do and they all enter men’s occupations, those jobs are still there, that work still needs to be done. We need to think about how to have people do that work, and compensate them fairly, and give them an opportunity to advance. It is, as the commissioner said, our societal norms, our cultural stereotypes, and of course, the systems of power and privilege that shape employers decisions about the types of workers who belong in which occupations within their organization. It’s their recruiting practices and their hiring practices that lead to a disproportionate number of women, as well as men of color being hired into these sticky floor jobs. With these nonexistent job ladders, ensuring that they start in entry level positions that provide little opportunity for advancement. Once they’re in that internal labor market, it’s almost impossible to switch to another job that actually does have a promotion ladder. Upward mobility, for example, for women in administrative support positions is rare, because the job ladders are short and nonexistent. We need to be able to both change how we hire people, but also what we do with those jobs that are at the bottom. We need to compensate them so that they have living wages and we need to provide avenues to move up as you gain more experience.

    Catherine White Berheide 14:42

    I want to turn now though to talking specifically about the pay gap itself. The pay gap is just simply the difference between women’s and men’s earnings. It’s usually calculated by comparing weekly or annual earnings. We use median earnings, which is the halfway point, half the people make more, half make less, because of course, income is highly skewed to the high end with a few people making vast amounts of money, while the majority of workers make much, much less. It’s a simple calculation. Have you all get out and do it yourself, but I’m going to do it for you. I’m going to present data on the earnings ratio in the United States in 2017. Here we are, women earning 82 cents on the dollar compared to men in the United States in 2017. Now, I have to say fortunately, otherwise, I would go into a well of despair, that things have actually gotten better over time. That’s the good news, it’s really important to recognize it. Particularly in those moments when we are feeling, shall we say, a little depressed about these things. In 1979, when we first began to pay attention to this issue, women working full-time earned 62 percent of what men earned. So, 82 is a lot better than 62 percent. Okay, that’s the good news. The pay gap has narrowed over time, but it has not been eliminated. In fact, sorry, here’s the bad news, it has stalled. That the progress that we made in the 80s and 90s appears to have stopped. That progress occurred because of the increases in women’s education, the increases in their labor force participation, and, of course the bad news, men’s income began to decline. It’s not that women got better, it’s that men, ordinary working class men, got worse or their income got worse. Most of the growth occurred in the past since 2004, the ratio has remained in this 80 to 83 percent range. Now, it’s probably hard for you to see here, and I’m sorry about this. What this slide shows, you’ll see at the end, it’s projecting out into a future. There are two futures here. One, where things keep on the line they were on since the early 70s. And the other in which they move at the rate. What you see here, the top line, would be if things continued the way they were for the past couple of decades. The bottom one is what would happen if they continue the way they have in the last decade. What this suggests if we continued at the rate of change that was happening in the 80s and 90s, we would reach pay equity in 2059. Okay, I don’t know about you, but that’s not my lifetime. I’m not even sure how old my daughter will be at that point. But older than I’d like her to be to reach pay equity. The other line, if it improves at the rate it has been since 2004, it’ll be 2119. Okay, so we’re talking about a long time if we don’t do something. So what can we do? One of the things that I want to talk about before I get to that is to pick up on a topic that was already raised, which is that this gap, the 82 cents, is for people overall. White women dominate overall because they’re numerically the larger group but what you see here is that the gap is a problem for women of color as well. Now, first, you need to know that Asians on the average make more money even than whites in the United States. That is a function of our immigration policies. That is we will only let Asians come into the country if they bring with them advanced degrees in particularly high paying fields like computer science and the STEM disciplines larger. That actually draws their total up higher. It is the case that if you compare white men with similar degrees to Asian men with those degrees, that white men outearn Asian men with those same degrees. But of course, there are a lot of white men in the United States who do not have computer science degrees and are also hit hard by the deindustrialization in the United States. If I were talking to the president, I would tell him that the coal jobs are not coming back. Nor is this going to be a manufacturing economy of the 1950s and 60s. That’s not where the labor market is going. We need to do something for the people who are losing out as those jobs are no longer available to them. But one of the things you will notice here, the difference between black men and black women, and between Hispanic men and Hispanic women is actually quite small. It’s nowhere near as big as the difference between white men and white women and between Asian men and Asian women. That’s because black men and Hispanic men suffer from race discrimination in their wages. This is not because black women and Hispanic women are making more money. It’s because black men and Hispanic men are making less money than white men and Asian men. You can see that by looking at it. We have, however bad this problem is for whites, it’s even greater for people of color. If you look at this trajectory over time, you see that the difference by race, that in particular that bottom line, in case you can’t see it is Hispanics. In the labor market, we have the longest, I don’t know it’s not right to call it a glide path, because we’re not in well, maybe because all we’re not doing much, but that the Hispanics, we’re looking at even longer 2233, 216 years from now, to get to the point of pay equity if we continue in the way we are doing right now. We’re talking about centuries. We need to do something and the question is what? Now one of the things that we need to do, of course, then is to ask what causes the pay gap. People like to point to education. They say, “Well, just get some education, and then you’ll make more money, and that’ll solve all the problems.” Of course, once again, stop and do that thought experiment about what would happen if everybody went out and got a college education. That’s not going to solve the pay gap. There aren’t enough jobs for all those people that require a college education. But it is the case that women have gone to school, they now outnumber men in college, they are now at this point, as you see here, earning the majority of degrees not only at the associate level, they are now earning the majority of doctoral degrees. The problem is they’re not earning them in the same fields. Even when they’re in the same field, by some strange coincidence, whatever subfield the women are in pays less. When I started working on STEM disciplines, I discovered that women in physics are astronomers, who knew that astronomy was a women’s issue. But mechanics clearly is a men’s thing. It doesn’t pay as much as what men do in physics. Okay, I’m going to go through these fast. I don’t intend for you particularly to absorb them other than to say what you see here is what happens to the pay gap as you add to your pay as you move up in educational levels. Clearly, getting a higher degree, getting the next degree pays off. But what I want you to notice, and women are the yellow, is that women have to earn a higher degree to earn as much as men on the average earn with one degree lower. If you look at the third set of bars are high school diplomas, and you’ll see that a woman with a high school diploma earns about what a man who’s a high school dropout earns. You just keep going up like that, to see women trying to earn what men do. At the end, what you see is that this continues with a racial difference. These are people with less than a high school degree, you will see that there’s not much difference in the women in terms of what their race is and what they can earn as a high school dropout. Here are women who are high school graduates. You begin to see some differences among the women, with black women in particular, earning a little bit less than white women. Here they have an associate’s degree, you see the continuation of that slightly lower earnings for black and Hispanic women. But once again, women earning less than men have their same racial category. Here, they have a bachelor’s degree, once again, you see not so much of a difference among blacks and Hispanics, but a big difference for whites and Asians. Education does not pay off at the same rate of return for women as it does for men, no matter what your racial category is. Here they have an advanced degree and you’re seeing that the difference grows. Okay, so the higher you go, the bigger the gap.

    Catherine White Berheide 26:28

    Now, what else is going on here? Because education, given that women now have more education than men, it cannot be the answer here, when we see these disparities. Most people say, “Well, it’s occupational segregation that men and women work in different jobs.” There’s certainly no question about that. Once again, through some strange coincidence, the jobs men do pay more than the jobs women do. That’s one of the issues that we’ve worked hard on in pay equity. What you see here are the big job categories. The first one with the higher pay, those are managerial and professional jobs. Then the next group, the lower pay service occupations, sales and office occupations are in the middle. Then you got natural resources, construction, maintenance, and then finally production, transportation, and material moving occupations. Clearly, if you want to earn more money, you want to be in a managerial or professional occupation. Now, for women, the most common jobs for women are registered nurse, elementary and middle school teacher, and secretary or administrative assistant. Thirteen percent of all women in the labor market are in one of those three jobs. That’s how female dominated they are. Now one of the areas of progress has been in the pay that nurses get. We have such a nursing shortage that neoclassical economics actually kicked in and increased the pay for nursing. We now have men going into this occupation at a higher rate. It is a high-demand occupation, we do not have enough nurses, and it now pays decently and better than being a teacher. It’s not surprising, therefore, that our teachers went on strike in several states. Not in this one, but in some of the states to the south, where their wages were so low they couldn’t live on them. But that administrative assistant office work job that so many women are in doesn’t pay much. This one just shows you that even if you drill down into very specific occupations, and once again, I don’t expect you to be able to necessarily see it, but even when you do you see that even in a specific job, there is a pay gap between how much men and women are paid as truck drivers, as software developers. That biggest difference between women who are the yellow and men who are the blue is financial managers is nothing like handling money to make for a wage gap. Jobs associated with men tend to pay more and they pay more even when women enter into those occupations. Another thing that people bring up all the time for why there’s a pay gap, they say, “Well, women don’t work as many hours as men do.” There is some truth to that. Women are the orangish color, men are the blue, and you’re going from working zero to four hours a week all the way up to 60 hours or more. You see, in general, the more hours work the blue or the bar gets. It certainly is the case that men, on the average, work more hours than women do. But when you control for hours worked, women are still getting paid less than men are. Why do women work fewer hours than men? The commissioner mentioned that I do work on unpaid labor, my dissertation was on women’s work in the home. Sure enough, here we are, women are the yellow, men are the blue. Notice that at every age group, women spend more time caring for other household members, both children and the elderly, than men do. This is particularly the case during the prime working age time period in their life. Not only do they spend more time caring for people in their families, they spend more time doing the ordinary household tasks of washing dishes, cooking, etc.

    Catherine White Berheide 30:54

    Women are also more likely to work part-time than men. You see that even here, there is a difference in the earnings of them. In particular, you will see that married women are a little more likely to rely on part-time work as a way potentially to manage this. But this part-time work is one where, once again, it’s insufficient to provide for your family. Of course, you have the problem of benefits. One of the things the Obama administration tried to do with the Affordable Care Act was to increase the likelihood that women would be getting healthcare benefits if they worked more than 30 hours a week. Okay, so I want to wrap this up, I could go on for hours. I teach courses on this. But I know we want to get to the panel discussion. As I said, the women earn less than men when they’re paid by the hour. This is once again a racialized problem as well. We have a serious problem then with very few women advancing into leadership positions in organizations. Currently out of the Fortune 500, there are 21 women CEOs, 21. As you know, we’ve not had a woman president. Britain’s on its second female prime minister. We’re a little behind on this one, we’ll see what the election does to the Senate and the House. If things go well for the Democrats, there will be a lot more women in Congress. If things go well for the Republicans, there will not be because there are very few Republican women running for Congress. When we encounter that kind of barrier, the glass ceiling at the top that has a consequence throughout the organization for the policies that it has. Because women bring a different set of questions to the table that has an effect on how we deal with issues of pay equity and compensation writ large in terms of benefits. But what happens is when women begin to enter into an industry in large numbers, once again, somehow coincidentally, the pay begins to fall in it. Some of the research suggests that women enter once the pay is already on the decline, so men flee for a higher paying occupation, making room for more women to be there. But even when we control for education, number of years in the labor force, number of hours worked, what we find is that there is still a pay gap that cannot be explained by these kinds of meritorious or neutral factors. That gap we think is attributable to the continuing effects of gender and race discrimination. With that said, I want to turn to one last point, which is about the working poor. To go back to where I started, that whatever the problems are, for those of us who are in elite jobs, the problems are that much more severe for women who are struggling to get out of poverty. We have a problem in the United States with people who are working full-time. I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but people who are working full-time and are still below the poverty line. This problem is worse for women. It’s especially bad for women of color who find themselves once again stuck in these jobs that do not pay enough for them and for their children. How do you get out of it? Education. I started by saying education isn’t the answer and it’s not the total answer. We have to improve the pay for these bottom jobs. We have to make them living wages, but it is the case that for today, if you can get an associate’s degree, if you can get into a technician job in a hospital, for example, you can actually get access to a decent income and decent benefits and a secure job. So I would argue that among the many things we need to do is to provide access for poor women to go to college, even if it’s only for a two year degree. Thank you very much.

    Roberta Reardon 35:43

    Thank you so much, Kate. Wonderful, I could sit and listen to you for a long time. I guess I need to take one of your classes. It’s a huge conversation, obviously. We’re going to have a panel today. I’m going to ask the panel to come up to the front and take your seats and introduce yourselves. We have four very distinguished women who are here to address these issues and help us come up with some suggestions for our agenda for how to attack this critical issue. Let me start all the way over on the end with Jill Robbins-Jabine, chief executive officer of the YWCA of Western New York, please tell us a little bit about yourself, Jill.

    Jill Robbins-Jabine 36:26

    Thank you, Commissioner Reardon. My name is Jill Robbins. I am the CEO of the YWCA of Western New York. I am going to look at the appropriate. The YWCA of Western New York has been serving women, children, and families since 1870. We are the oldest human service agency in Buffalo. A lot of what we just listened to we deal with every day. We actually work with women, children, and families from six weeks old to seniors. So literally cradle to grave. The common thread we’re dealing with are people who’re living with the interrelated issues of poverty and homelessness. The sticky floor, those are our folks, not only the people we serve many of our staff. So this hits home very closely because it’s what me and my sisters across the state, there are 20 of us, one of them is sitting in the room, 20 YWCA working together to move women from where they are into self-sufficiency.

    Roberta Reardon 37:45

    Thank you. Next we have Beverly Neufeld, founder and president of PowerHer.

    Beverly Cooper Neufeld 37:50

    Hi, good morning, everyone. PowerHer New York is a network of about 100 organizations that are working together to advance a shared agenda that’s not about just one topic, but it’s about many topics. We have some of the partners here actually. We cover reproductive rights. We cover domestic violence. What we’re trying to do is to find where these issues intersect, so that we can move the ball for economic equality. Our commonality is that we’re working for economic equality. I think what you heard today underscores just how complicated the issue is, it started out as the Equal Pay Campaign of New York. We were basically five women on the steps of City Hall wearing red and seeing red because women are still in the red. That has grown into a very strong movement around equal pay. I think it’s very heartening to know that even though it’s 11 years later since we started, there really is a change in the conversation. Change does take time. We may be impatient with that, but the reality is, I think we’re at an exciting moment here in New York to really make the kind of change that’s going to affect the lives of all the women that we’ve been discussing. So I’m very happy to be here today.

    Roberta Reardon 39:16

    Thank you. Next we have Sarah Brafman, staff attorney with A Better Balance.

    Sarah Brafman 39:20

    Hi, everyone. Good morning. My name is Sarah Brafman, like Commissioner Reardon said, I’m a staff attorney at an organization called A Better Balance. A Better Balance is a national legal advocacy organization started by a group of really remarkable women attorneys who felt that we needed to push policy and advocacy in the legal field into ensuring that families and women and particularly low-income women can care for themselves and their families without compromising their economic security. Over the last decade plus, we’ve been really proud to work with New York State on advancing this agenda, so everything from the women’s equality agenda to New York paid family leave, which just went into effect in January. I know there are a lot of people in this room who have been working literally night and day on implementing paid family leave. We also work across the country on things like accommodation laws, where if you’re pregnant or just gave birth, that you deserve accommodations, so you’re not pushed off the job and can stay healthy. Our Co-Founder and Co-President Dina Bakst, is really proud to be on the Council for Women and Girls. We really have a three-pronged strategy in terms of advancing this agenda. Number one, we do policy advocacy and work with a lot of folks in this room and on this panel. Number two, we do direct services. We run a free legal hotline where anyone in New York City and New York State and across the country can call us with questions and get information on caregiving. We also take on a number of clients and do strategic litigation. Then we do outreach and education, so things like our Working Woman’s Pocket Guide was circulated. This is really to help women understand what their rights are in the workplace. Just briefly to give an example of the sticky floor and what this looks like, because I think for us, we like to distill it down into stories and people, is our client, Karina. She was a government employee, not a New York State government employee, but she worked for the government. She is a single mother to a special-needs child. She wanted her shift changed just from 9:00 to 9:30, so that she could put her child on the school bus. Even though they accommodated other people and changed those schedules, her schedule wasn’t changed. Her boss refused to do that for her. She had to choose between putting her three-year-old daughter on the school bus and going to work. I think we all know what that choice was. She chose her daughter and subsequently was pushed off the job. So thinking about things like pregnancy and caregiving, and what Professor Berheide talked about, about household responsibilities and caregiving responsibilities, thinking about policies that encompass all of that when thinking about how to close the wage gap. New York has been such a leader here and will continue to lead. I will talk more about what I think lots of solutions could be.

    Roberta Reardon 42:45

    Great, thank you. Next, Janice Brown, president of AAUW.

    Janice Brown 42:50

    Good morning, everyone. My name is Janice Brown. I am president of AAUW which is the American Association of University Women. It’s a nonpartisan organization that’s been around for over 135 years. Our focus is definitely women and girls to provide education advocacy, where we do a lot of research and philanthropy work for women and girls. We’ve been doing a lot of work throughout the years on anything concerning women when it comes to equity, but we just refocused and are going to focus on certain things. We have a three-pronged focus as well. We’re talking about economic security, where women need to be trained to negotiate their salaries, we’re talking about leadership, and we’re talking about education and training. Leadership, where women need to be in the top half of these companies, especially nonprofits and Fortune 500 companies. When it comes to education and training, being able to get the education without discrimination and biases and moving forward. Personally, I am a military spouse, my husband served 25 years in the army. We were stationed at Fort Drum, New York. I work as a sexual assault coordinator for the army. Not only am I fighting that battle for women, and men, but I’m also fighting pay equity for unpaid work.

    Roberta Reardon 44:37

    Thank you very much. This is an excellent panel to ask our questions. The first thing I want to ask all of you, we’re talking about the sticky floor and we’ve gotten a lot of wonderful information about the pay gaps and all of that, define for me what are the jobs that define the sticky floor? What exactly are the jobs that we’re talking about?

    Jill Robbins-Jabine 45:02

    I’m going to take this as these are our jobs, we’re talking about hourly wage service industry that feels dominated by women. I have to say, what we keep hearing is that those roles, whether it’s education from early childhood on, whether it’s your health aides, people who are caring for other people, so there’s traditionally female roles that are hourly, they’re low. And interestingly, I’m going to say that it’s not your ironic comment, and as we can say, it’s changing societal views on those roles and those nurturing industries, that oh, by the way, on developing our future. Nothing major, right? Just the future of the country. Yet, we as a society, don’t value the roles. Different conversation, different panel, perhaps, but I think that those are the sticky floor jobs. Those are the ones where women go in because they’re trying to navigate around being in our case, particularly, we’re talking about female head of household. Ninety-five percent of the women that we work with who use our services are female-headed households. Ninety-five percent, we serve over 3,400 people a year. Within that 95 percent, you’re talking about women who it is the salary, it is the hourly wage, but just changing that isn’t going to matter for these women. Because if they don’t have transportation, if they don’t have childcare, if they aren’t certain, first and foremost, that their kids are going to be taken care of, it doesn’t matter what you do because that comes first. I think when we’re talking about these women and how we’re looking at solutions, you absolutely have to look at how do you bring all the people together who influenced the lives of these women, create barriers and remove barriers? You have to get them all working together. But when we’re talking about the sticky floor, those are the folks we’re talking about.

    Roberta Reardon 47:26

    Anybody else on the panel want to add to that? Any other reflections on that or…

    Janice Brown 47:30

    I would also say, of course, you found lots of minorities in those jobs as well. When I say minorities, I’m talking about Hispanic women, Caribbean women, not only just women of color, but all shades of color. I’d say some of that attributes to the fact that they’re coming into the country, maybe they don’t have citizenship, and they have to take those low-paying jobs. Of course, if they don’t have citizenship, they will never get a job that’s going to pay them equal pay.

    Roberta Reardon 48:10

    One of the things that I notice in the description of these jobs, as Kate said, these are essential jobs. These are not disposable jobs. These are not things that we can live without. If we don’t have people doing these jobs, the entire society fractures. What do we do? These are not throwaway jobs. What do you think we should do about these jobs? They may be sticky, but people are working them. How should we handle that?

    Sarah Brafman 48:42

    I think that’s a really good question. I think we have to think about the sticky floor and then we also have to think about when they’re even pushed out of the sticky floor. There was just an article on the front page of The New York Times this week about women who have miscarried because their employers wouldn’t give them accommodations. One of those women is named Tasha Morel. She’s a client of ours. She works at a factory that ships cell phone parts. Anyone who uses a cell phone and needs a replacement is probably getting it from a warehouse in Memphis, Tennessee, because they ship to the East Coast. They asked to not do heavy lifting, lift 15 pounds instead of 45 pounds. Their employers say to them, no, you have to lift that. Again, you have to choose between keeping on working because 40 percent of households in this country are run by women. Sixty-eight percent of black households are headed by women, and you need to keep working. What happens is you keep working and then there have been not just one, not just two, but multiple women who have miscarried after they’ve been denied accommodations. You’re talking about jobs that these women need to have. Domestic work, home health aides, like Jill mentioned, but we’re also talking about choosing between being pushed out of even the sticky floor and needing to stay there.

    Roberta Reardon 50:23

    What are the legal remedies right now in the state of New York, for instance, for those kinds of situations?

    Sarah Brafman 50:30

    That’s a great question. In New York, fortunately, we do have a pregnancy accommodation law that was passed through the women’s equality agenda. If you need accommodations on the job, because you’re pregnant, because you’ve just given birth. I think one of our policy suggestions is to actually add to that law, related-medical conditions to make explicit that things like lactation should also be a part of that. Then your employer has to give you an accommodation, unless it would be extremely difficult or extremely expensive for them to do that. New York was really at the forefront of this. There are now 23 states that have that. It goes beyond federal law, because under federal law, you either need to have a pregnancy-related disability. We know that for a lot of women, they’re not disabled, they just need to go to prenatal appointments, they just have a restriction of not lifting, which is very common for pregnancy, or under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, you need to find what’s called the comparator, where you have to prove that well, they accommodated someone else who wasn’t pregnant and so they need to accommodate me as well. Now, in the legal world, maybe that’s interesting. But women who are pregnant for nine months, they don’t have time to start looking around for what other people are doing. That’s not how people live their lives. They need an accommodation very quickly. That’s something else to think about too, is on the enforcement side. That’s tracking pregnancy accommodation complaints, that when pregnancy accommodation and discrimination, you don’t really want to have to litigate those cases. Our greatest successes on our hotline are when we can tell someone what the law is, they can go to their employer. The employer wakes up to what the law is and just accommodates the person who needs it. Those are our greatest victories. Ensuring that the enforcement and that the state is on board with fast tracking those complaints is also, I think, something that’s really crucial to this as well.

    Roberta Reardon 52:39

    It seems to me, I mean, this happens a lot around regulation, which I’m familiar with, because of the DOL that part of the issue for the worker is they don’t know where to go to get support. They’re afraid to put their hand up. What can we do as a state to make it more available to advertise the remedies? What are the steps that we should take? Because we do have good laws in the state of New York, but obviously people are afraid to ask for the enforcement. Are there things that we could adopt that would make it a more public message or make it easier for people to access the support?

    Beverly Cooper Neufeld 53:19

    Well, certainly, Sarah talked about some of the laws and that would be so helpful, especially in the situation where you have nine months. I just wanted to make another comment about the sticky floor though, before I respond to that. I think that this is so critical that we dug right at the heart of the problem by talking about these particular women. I think we’ve made such a great case for the fact that these jobs are not going to go away and they can’t go away. We need them. Not every woman is going to go into STEM or the trades, which I hope we talk about. Really what we have to look at as a society, what do we value? We do not value the work of women because this is caretaking work. We really want to get at what is wrong there. We have to look at revaluing women’s work. That can be done. Matter of fact, I just joined an international conference and forum about equal pay for work of equal value. It’s not a common idea. But we do have to figure out why a man who takes care of our lawns or cars or building is paid more than a woman who is trained to take care of our children and our elderly. That has to do with our values. That’s not going to be an easy answer. I think the state has a very important role in finding ways to change that. Matter of fact, the equal pay campaign started in the 1980s. I’m sure Barb Thomas, you’ll be happy that I’m talking about this, we’ve gone full circle. Well, it’s a difficult topic, really, it’s hard to explain, and it’s hard to fix. But in the 1980s, there was a one-time lawsuit against New York State. It was settled with, I think, a $3 million pot of money from the previous Governor Cuomo. What they did is they looked at every job in the New York State workforce and they evaluated each job. Then they made adjustments based on the fact of how much work, how much education, your responsibility, the danger of a job, and all of that, and then they made those adjustments. Unfortunately, it was never institutionalize that every five years, you look at those jobs. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. But that actually is a very important thing for the state to take a role in again. I think it would send a message that it matters what jobs that women have, and that we need to look at how we pay women, and what we value in the workforce. That’s at the heart of the problem for these particular women.

    Roberta Reardon 56:20

    Yes, because as we keep saying these jobs are not going to go away. It’s fascinating. There was one story in the pay gap study that we got from Arthur Cheliotes from ASCME, I can’t remember the local. They were municipal administrators in the city of New York, and 25/26 years ago, when he was elected to position of president of the local, they were white men who did the job. Over time, it became women of color who were doing these jobs, and their pay stagnated and actually fell. They brought a lawsuit. Two years ago, I think it was two years ago, on women’s pay equity day, he came running to the steps of City Hall in New York City, announcing that we’ve won the lawsuit. I don’t think they’ve actually figured out how much money is going to be distributed. But it was a clear case of gender discrimination. That is a great example. It was a decade I think of legal wrangling, but it actually got resolved. Those are the kinds of large impacts that we can have. But I think you’re right at the core of it, why do we not value that work more?

    Beverly Cooper Neufeld 57:32

    I think it’s interesting that when a man enters a female job, they’re like, “Wow, that’s so great to even get paid a little bit more.” But when a woman enters a male oriented job, then they have sexual harassment, they are underpaid, they get pushed out. That just shows that the sexism that’s involved here. And CWA 1180 was that example. There the women actually had jobs that were similar, but a different title to the jobs that had originally been there and were male oriented. That’s something that we can also address in the equal pay laws with equal pay for work of similar work. My legal eagle here can explain the actual technicalities of that, but it’s really important that we get at some of the difficulties in the lawsuits. But not everybody can have a lawsuit. The only reason they did it was because they had a union. They had a union that was really in their favor.

    Jill Robbins-Jabine 58:36

    I just want to add, the point is that the conversation can’t be here and then we leave. This conversation has to be going on continuously, why male roles are valued more, even when it might be the same role than a woman. That conversation needs to continue? It’s like discussions around racism, they have to be had. They’re really hard. They’re really difficult. And it could take 10/15/20 or more years, but you can’t just not have them. Because if you don’t have them, you’re not going to get anywhere.

    Roberta Reardon 59:20

    I think part of the problem with a legal solution, frankly, is the legal solution can be long and difficult. Not everybody can afford a lawsuit or is able to even step into that role. It’s really changing the perception of society. When we did the pay gap, at the end, we’ve got some copies of the pay gap study out there. You can also get it online on the governor’s web page. But one of the things we did at the end of the pay gap, there are dozens of recommendations. When we talk to women’s groups or any group about it, we always ask them, get the study and go through the recommendations and choose one. Just choose one that you can support. Then take it to your community, whether it’s your church, your school, your dining room table, whatever your community is. If all of us picked one recommendation, and began to have that conversation, and replicated that conversation, think how much better the societal conversation could be. Silence is the worst thing we can do. And silence is often what happens to the victims of the discrimination and to those of us who watch it. And just keep on walking, because we don’t know what else to do. One of the reasons we’re here today is to talk about what else can we do to make this more of a public conversation? What are the other tools in our toolkit? Because we need the Council on Women and Girls who wants a 2019 agenda, and we want it from you. We want your ideas. What else should we be doing to further this conversation?

    Sarah Brafman 1:00:58

    Can I get like slightly wonky for…? I think wonkiness always needs to be balanced again with individuals and individual lives. When I think about policy and crafting policy, I like to return to the way I do workshops with workers and explain their rights. The way we do it is we go through a kind of chronology of what their working life might look like. They enter the workforce. Unfortunately, as a woman, they might face sex discrimination and sexual harassment. Then they might face pay discrimination all along the way. Then, if they decide to have children, they might face pregnancy discrimination. Then they might want to have time off from work. What does that time off look like? Then they might want to go back to work, but they might want to keep breastfeeding. What does breastfeeding look like? Then they might have to care for a sick child. What does sick time look like? Then what does their retirement look like? When thinking about policy, and I think where we can go further, I think that there’s two buckets to look at. One, there’s pay itself and where we can think about advancing pay in New York and our pay laws. Then there’s the whole working woman. On pay specifically, I think we need to look at a couple of things. We need to look at salary history. This is a wave of laws that passed around the country where employers cannot ask applicants what they made previously. Because we know that women and people of color start making less from the outset of their careers. Then if you start making less, and then you go to your next job interview, and they say, “What did you make before, I’ll give you a 5 percent bump.” You’re always going to be pushed down and kept down. I think Bev referenced the notion of moving from an equal-pay-for-equal-work framework to similar work. This is a concept that California and some other states are moving that it’s not the case anymore. That we have to look at exactly the same job title next to exactly the same job title. But if you’re doing similar work, you should also be paid similarly and equally for that. Then there’s also transparency. We have a lot of data, we’ve seen a lot of data, but there’s a lot of data that we still cannot uncover because employers don’t make it public. Unfortunately, the federal government has rolled back pay transparency laws. New York really has the opportunity to step in and correct for the federal government lagging on that. Then there’s the broader issues as well. Paid sick time, a lot of women are one child sick day away or one pregnancy complication away from being pushed off the job. We need a state paid sick time law. New York City has one. Westchester has one. Albany just had a hearing on a paid sick days law. But a statewide paid sick days law is really crucial. We have an amazing Paid Family Leave Law, but it doesn’t include personal medical leave, so your own personal medical needs. Really expanding the temporary disability insurance laws so that it includes job protection, and benefits that are livable for folks, because right now the benefit level is quite low, capped at $170 a week. Then things like scheduling also. Talk about fear of even going forward, people have fear of getting fired for just even asking for a schedule change to take care of their children. Expanding the human rights laws so that it covers right now the pregnancy law covers employers with four or more. We need to cover all employees for all forms of discrimination, with no employer threshold. Then childcare, childcare, childcare. We need to be focusing on childcare. We also need to be thinking about reproductive health. The Reproductive Health Act, the Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act for women who need to be able to make the choice whether and when to have children. Those are few, but I like the idea of focusing on one at a time, sometimes it can be overwhelming to think about all of those. I feel confident that New York can do all of it. But those are some ideas that that we wanted to lay out.

    Roberta Reardon 1:05:41

    Those are fabulous. I want to hone in on one because in every conversation that we had, whether it was a public hearing or a cup of coffee across the table, childcare was the number one issue for every single person. It is the women who pick up the children, drop them off in the morning, pick them up at night. It is the women who stay home from work, unless you’re Jim Malatras, you’re special guy in this room. But by and large, it is the women not just with a child care, elder care, family care, someone has to go for chemotherapy, it’s the woman in the family who accompanies that person and it’s automatic. It’s automatic on the part of the woman as much as it is on the part of the rest of the family. We have talked to two people in industry who are beginning to take this problem on. People who run businesses. It’s a cost to them to lose their employees because they have to take off for childcare. At Building 12, the DOL has the Wee Care child care center and it’s in the building. It’s not free. It’s run by a third party, so the DOL does not have the insurance problem. But it gives our employees and state employees a safe and careful place to bring their children while they work. If we could have more of that in industry across the state, we would go a long way to beginning to resolve the issues that we’re talking about. It is significant that when we raise it a lot of times, industries will say I would like to but the risk is too high. Well, there are providers who are set up to take the risk. But we have to think of pooling our resources. If there’s an industrial park, can the people who have the businesses in the industrial park come to together and help support a childcare center? That’s not just 9 to 5, if they have second or third shift, you have to have second or third shift childcare. The United Way in Rochester, as part of their EDC plan, they’re expanding their capacity to do 24-hour childcare in their center. It is pretty unique. But the sticky floor always has second/third shift workers, and they have nowhere to put their kids.

    Beverly Cooper Neufeld 1:08:07

    The idea of business as a partner in this new solutions is really important. More and more businesses are stepping up because there’s a business case for retaining your employees. Also, just yesterday, I think was a lean-in McKinsey study. That really pointed to the fact that businesses are not stepping up. They say they are but they’re not doing enough. I suggest you look at that, because it really shows exactly how difficult it is for women to enter and to move up. Particularly, it really focuses in on the trials of women of color. There’s a lot that business can do on this particular issue. You asked for some new solutions. In the UK, there’s a new law that some of you may have heard of. It actually requires businesses of 250 or more to report their pay data in very particular ways. One of the ways they have to report it is by quartiles, how many women and men are in the lower quarter of the pay of your company, the second quarter, third quarter, and of course on top. Of course, what you see is that there are a lot of women at the bottom and then there pretended was a lot more women on top. Actually, if we look at that wonderful study that you did, that was put together, it has such amazing recommendations in it, has a picture of the New York State workforce, page 19. It shows that the women are in the low paid jobs. Lots of women there and it goes down, down, down, and then you see men in low paid jobs and then the numbers go up, up, up, so it’s typical. As a model, New York State can do something about it by challenging this incredible administration that’s moved forward on equal pay. Actually, the governor has a program built around the salary history ban that we were able to pass in New York City. That’s an idea that might be able to be adapted to a state, but that really puts businesses in the seat where they have to be accountable. Right now, the governor did sign an executive order and that’s around contractor reporting of equal pay. That’s a great start. But what is business doing to move this forward? What is business doing to solve childcare? More and more businesses are realizing this is part of what they need to do. Fifty percent of the talent pool is not being utilized. I think this is a great case. There are wonderful companies that are doing this and what they’re realizing is they’re not doing so well, so they find ways to do better. But if you don’t count it, you’re not going to be able to change it. So that’s just one thing that’s going on.

    Janice Brown 1:11:13

    I would like to add two things from an AAUW’s perspective, two things that we would like to see is data collection, having implores to really be transparent with the data when it comes to gender pay, when it comes to racial pay gaps. Collect that data, because we know if I don’t know about it, I can’t fix it. If employers are collecting their data, they are made aware, and hold them accountable for their actions on what they’re doing for pay equity and the pay gap. The second thing AAUW would love to do, is how women negotiate their salaries. One of our goals with a new strategic plan is to train 10 million women by 2022 to negotiate their salary. We can start with that as part of legislation. There’s other states that have come on with us to do this. Boston municipality has joined and they’ve trained over 5,000 women in Boston to negotiate their salary. One way we’re trying to make that happen, we just had an online workshop. All of y’all can go out to AAUW.org on the national website, and take the salary negotiation webinar to help negotiate salary. I think that would be something big as a state if we could get salary negotiation in the state.

    Roberta Reardon 1:12:50

    I’m very happy to say that we are actually currently reviewing a salary negotiation guide that we’re developing at the DOL. Once it’s approved, we’ll be able to roll it out. We can actually do that in our career center. We have 96 career centers across the state. They’re open to everybody who lives in New York State. They can come in and sit down and talk to us. We have a lovely brochure that walks you through how to do it. We can train people to do it. I encourage people to go to your website as well. I worked as an actor before I came here. As an actor, I belonged to three unions. I was very, very lucky. My floor was always set by my unions. It’s a highly competitive industry, so you can imagine if I didn’t have a union, how horrible it would be. But in my union, you could negotiate over scale. What happened is, and you all know about this, as you negotiate over scale, it was the men who always negotiated double scale. If I was lucky, I could get scale and a half. The men could get double. They could get triple. They could get extra things into their contracts. I did not know how to ask for it. I had an agent who was wonderful. But at the beginning, I didn’t even know how to ask my agent. There’s a lot of stuff to unlearn and then relearn the right way. We have a little bit of time left, what other and I’m going to do some Q&A. But for our panel, are there other things that we’ve left out? How can we work together? What can the state do?

    Jill Robbins-Jabine 1:14:17

    I think it’s really important, number one, I want to comment on the negotiation and teaching women how to do that. Women don’t know how to do that. We at YWCA Western New York, actually, even with our direct service staff who are not negotiating a salary, when they come in, we talk to them, when we offer them the job about how to negotiate for what they should be getting paid or what they want to get paid or just how to negotiate. We do that with our hourly staff. The expectation is that if you don’t start negotiating, we’re going to start teaching you how to do it right then and there. They just look at you like why are you doing this? Because you need to learn how to do this. We are empowerment. We don’t feed people, we teach people how to fish. I appreciate that and I’m actually going to go to your webinar. I think what’s critical and what we’re missing is we’re talking about salaries in negotiation, and yet, we still have this really major issue about the sticky floor and women who don’t know how to negotiate and they’re getting paid minimum wage. Well, thank you, it’s going up, that’s great. You are not looking at holistic solutions to address the barriers that prevent our women from being able to even maintain those jobs or actually have any hope at a ladder to go anywhere. Education critical. Yep. So is transportation. So is childcare. Until we start coming together, different government institutions, from Office of Child and Family Services, to Labor, to OMH, everybody needs to come together. Because you have to look at the person as a whole as opposed as a piece. You can’t just look at the labor piece. You can’t just look at the children and family piece. You have to look at it together and address it holistically. I would argue that doing it in Albany and trying to create an answer that works in Brooklyn, and works in Buffalo might not work.

    Roberta Reardon 1:16:31

    Or Watertown.

    Jill Robbins-Jabine 1:16:32

    That’s right. Absolutely. I think what you have to do is you set the framework, and then you have to empower local, but they have to be held accountable. Because we all know that often people want to protect their own piece of the pie. Instead of trying to make the pie bigger. If you come together, you grow the pie. A lot of people just want to protect their piece. I think the state has to hold folks accountable, whether it’s the Regional Economic Council working with the Poverty Initiative, you have to do this, you have to work together to eliminate the barriers, because then we actually will have women who need to negotiate their salary, because right now we don’t.

    Sarah Brafman 1:17:18

    I would say, just really quickly, I think we also really need to be thinking about our immigrant communities as well and the very specific barriers there. First and foremost, is language accessibility, I think the state is really well situated to help translate a lot of information and a lot of resources into multiple languages. The pocket guide that you got we translated into Spanish, I would love to see it translated into 50 languages. But in the immigrant communities we hear from women who are just incredibly fearful. We know that they’re being discriminated against and they just are so scared to come forward. It’s really about going into immigrant communities and meeting people where they are, where they feel safe, and where we can disseminate information in a very protective and secure way. That sometimes means doing workshops in people’s homes and churches in communities. Especially outside of New York City, where jobs like home healthcare are really growing, and it’s especially growing for immigrant workers. That’s a very isolating job. So having worker centers and spaces where people can gather and meet to collectively talk about what they’re going through, is hugely important as well.

    Beverly Cooper Neufeld 1:18:57

    Actually, November 1st is Latina Equal Pay Day, and I don’t know if the professor will agree with me, but part of the reason that women in New York Latinas get, I think, it’s 56 cents to $1 now in New York, there are issues around language and what jobs that people take. But additional to that just to look at, what do we do for the sticky floor and that is we train women for better jobs. That’s a really important part and I know New York is doing some of that, but the trades are good jobs that people can live on. More apprenticeships, but also make sure that the women who are trained and are journeymen at that point, they get the jobs and they get the jobs for a long period of time. The state can take action. Others have, where there’s a requirement for a certain amount of women or minorities to be on job sites. That’s just one way. Also, there’s training around middle skills workers and how do we move middle skills workers, women to better jobs with a little training. Sometimes it’s not a lot. Sometimes it’s a little but we need to have the capacity to evaluate that and help your other as well.

    Roberta Reardon 1:20:21

    Thank you. I’m going to open the floor to questions. It’s going to be fast. I know this lady here has been anxious. There’s a microphone, hold on one second.

    Kay Wilkie 1:20:32

    Hi, Kay Wilkie. I’m secretary treasurer of the Public Employees Federation. Hi, Commissioner Reardon. As you probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear, I’m going to say that one of the answers for the sticky floor is collective bargaining and unionization rates. We’re over a century after the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and the commissioner of the Department of Labor, Francis Perkins, of course, was a state and federal leader. I think we’ve seen over the past decades such an attack and of course you guys know about the Janis case, etc. A major attack on government workers and public employment and major trends of privatization. We all need to stand up for working for the common good. Government employment is one of the ways we work for the common good, fight discrimination, and help women. We have had, and I think we could do better, systematic career ladders, moving women, often from CSEA administrative jobs into public technical jobs in our union. We have a good history of that in New York State. We’re currently working with the governor’s office on improving nurse salaries, trying to get them a major salary upgrade. We’re losing our nurses to the private sector, radically. We’re simply not paying them enough. Whether its geo-differentials or better salaries, the government historically has led the way for the common good. Government regulation leads the way. Public transportation leads the way. It makes it more accessible for women. I think we’ve forgotten that government is a force for good and government employment is a force for good. If there’s one thing I could beat the drum on, it would be let’s work together with folks like EFT, SEIU in the public interest, which is doing all kinds of really great research that could be helpful to all of your advocacy organizations. Again, I’d be interested also Dr. Berheide, if you look at unionization rates as a key factor because it trends pretty perfectly with the decline of the working class and middle class in this country, the decline in unionization rates. So union, yes.

    Roberta Reardon 1:22:40

    Thank you very much. Lady way in the back with her hand up?

    Blue Karaker 1:22:48

    Hi, my name is Blue Karaker. I work at Citizen Action in New York and I do legislative work focused on working families. I want to thank the panel. I’m a lifelong member of AAUW, a former board president of YWCA, I’m a member of PowHer, and work closely with ABB all the time. I wanted to just mention three things. First, I think we need to pay attention. Somebody mentioned hidden work. This is increasingly going to be a challenge for women as technology allows them to stay home and take on jobs. They find that’s the only option that they can do and also continue their caregiving roles. The parameters and the lack of benefits and the lack of pay and everything else that revolves around doing work out of your home is very serious. Secondly, I think childcare is really essential. We’re part of a fairly new Empire State campaign for childcare that’s putting together some initiatives that way. I think companies that are doing that are great. But this country managed to put a national childcare program together in the war time when we needed women working. Our military when they wanted to rely on people coming to work put together a well-paid, well-financed, and accessible childcare program. We can do that. We don’t need to worry about going company to company. I think we have to do that. If we expanded paid family leave to our comparable neighbors in Canada and allowed parents to stay home for a year, instead of congratulating ourselves for 12 weeks, we could release some of the burden on childcare. Finally, I would point out that if you are here in Albany, we are in the midst of a really difficult campaign to get paid sick days to get the right of workers just to be able to earn one hour for every 30 hours that they work. The Chamber of Commerce is killing this bill by convincing businesses that it’s going to cost millions. Ten states, actually less states, over 30 municipalities have this. New York City’s had it. We’re very close to losing it here in Albany. So call your county legislator.

    Roberta Reardon 1:25:20

    Thank you, Heather.

    Heather 1:25:27

    Thank you, I have a question relating to actually an area of employment that hasn’t been touched on. I’m asking the question as a former public defender, how do we increase the number of women in law enforcement and fire? Nationally, 4 percent of fire departments are women, less than 10 percent of law enforcement are women. Yet, in other countries, in Scandinavian countries, that number is near 40 percent. Even England is near 40 percent representation in both. Yet here, this number hasn’t moved in 30 years.

    Beverly Cooper Neufeld 1:26:00

    Well, I can just say I’m, in addition to the honor of being on the State Council for Women and Girls, I’m also part of the Commission in New York City. I know they’re creating liaisons in every department, but particularly in the fire department, the police department, and their jobs are to figure out what’s going wrong. We can sit here and guess, but in addition to just having those closed doors, there are a lot of problems, reasons that women aren’t moving forward. I don’t have another answer, but I think that the answers have to be searched and the state certainly can be helpful in supporting that kind of, they have staff people who now are really looking and talking to people, taking surveys, figuring out supporting women, when they come in getting more women through the exams. They took away the physical requirements. But that’s a really excellent point. Here’s something that I think we can do more about.

    Roberta Reardon 1:27:08

    The nontraditional employment that was the one thing that popped out in the pay gap study, it’s the nontraditional employment where women really need to look, because I always tell women, what are your brothers doing, that’s what you need to be doing to.

    Susan Zimet 1:27:32

    Hi, I’m Susan Zimet. I have intersectionality, from the perspective I’m the executive director of Hunger Action Network of New York State, so I deal with all these issues that you’re all talking about, because so many women with children live in poverty. That’s what we’re dealing with every day. But I’m also the chair of the Women’s Equality Party of the state of New York. I’m not going to get political, but we just put together a brand new website for the Women’s Equality Party. When we were researching all the issues we work on, I found myself so incredibly depressed to realize how bad things really are for women. When you talk about the men’s issues and the women’s issues, and why do we have this disparity and we have to talk about it, the truth of the matter is women are just not respected. Women are not treated as equal. That’s the basis of the problems begin with because until we’re treated as equals, or we demand we’re equal, or we take over and start running the government and the businesses, we’re never going to solve these problems. One of my goals through this not-for-profit 2020 Project Women, which gets me on the suffrage commission, one of our goals is to get young girls to understand that you have to speak up, you have to run for government, you have to push to get higher up is the only way we’re going to change things. Now, to go to negotiating salaries, I just want to say very quickly, it’s really interesting. Forty years ago, I was working in advertising, a very large advertising agency. There were a number of women who had hired the men who became the presidents of the company. They never got moved up 30, 40, 50 years, they never got moved up. Okay, I got moved up pretty quickly in about eight years. But I was standing on those woman’s shoulders. People met a bunch of magazines had just come out, Working Woman had just come out, and I was on the train going to visit my grandmother in Florida. There’s an article about women and men and how we negotiate salaries. They said, women have a tendency to sit in their office with their head down, do really, really hard work. They think they’ll get noticed. Men, on the other hand, know that you go in, Kibbutz in the bathroom with the boss. You go play golf with the boss, you do this with the boss, and you get noticed. What this article said was that women have to go up and speak up and demand what they want. So here I was, I was an assistant planner, six months into the job. I came home from Florida. I walked into the top guys office, and I said, this is what I’m doing, this is how good I’m doing, I want a raise and I want a promotion. Within two weeks, I got a raise and a promotion. Okay, it was because of that one article saying to me, this is how I’m going to do it. This is how women do it. This is what you have to do. Read the article, I walked in, it got done. I’ve done that ever since. I won’t take no for an answer. I basically demand what I need. It’s really important we teach girls, we are different than men, but we have to start playing the game. We have to do it better, because nobody’s going to hand it to us.

    Roberta Reardon 1:30:40

    Thank you. If you’d hand your the microphone to the lady right next to you in the polka dot dress.

    Fanny Villarreal 1:30:48

    My name is Fanny Villarreal. I’m the CEO for the YWCA in Syracuse. I do have this book and they have a specific policy recommendations. I was wondering if we have worked on any of those or where we are with this?

    Roberta Reardon 1:31:11

    Some of them have been adopted as practices. Some of them we have, as I said, I’ve asked, every group I speak to pick one recommendation and work on it. One of the big ones is mentoring. I know everyone in this room understands the value of mentoring. I’m sure we’re all here because somebody mentored us. I’m certainly here because of that. That is a huge issue. It’s something that of course, the governor’s mother has her mentoring program that she started, we want to expand that we’re having conversations about mentoring within state government. There are a lot of women in state government, how can we reach out to our sisters in the government and bring them along with us? There are various things underway. I don’t have a list of everything, but I’m very, very serious. Look at the recommendations, all you need to do is choose one, the problem that we all have is we try to do everything at once. We can’t. But we can all do one thing at a time. One last question. The lady with the black suit on.

    Sharon DeSilva 1:32:16

    Good morning, Sharon DeSilva. I’m PEF vice president. I want to thank every woman who presented before us today, I thought it was quite informative. I also want to thank Professor Berheide for your presentation. And I want to thank you mostly for your statistical evidence. I found it very informative. But I want to focus on your stated solution, which was education. I agree with you wholeheartedly that that is a very important, big piece of the puzzle. I know the only reason that I am able to stand before you today, as a woman who grew up extremely poor in Trinidad and Tobago, is because of my educational accomplishments. I think that’s a whole separate piece of the puzzle that really needs to be addressed. Just as an example, because there are disparities within you’re trying to get that educational advancement in, as an example, when I came to this country in 1978, because I had a Latino name, I was put in a lower grade because of my Latino name, even though I kept telling the administrators that I was just a black girl from Trinidad and I wasn’t a Latino, I just had the name because of the intermarriage in my family. They didn’t care. They said, I didn’t speak correct English and in Trinidad at the time, because I grew up very poor, I spoke broken English. They said I was speaking Spanish. I said just the name is Spanish and not the language. That’s just an example of how some people are treated. When I went to college and I presented a wonderful paper to my professor, he said you plagiarized this document. I said, No, I didn’t. He said, Well, black people are not supposed to be able to write that well. It took him several years before I graduated for him to come and apologize to me because I told him, why don’t you check my resources and you will see that I worked very hard on this document and I did not plagiarize it. It took several years before he apologized. I can go on with the many narrative stories, but there’s so much discrimination in that realm of advancement, but I think that’s the start of the puzzle is really trying to address that issue. Because it’s so important and I am just so very grateful for every single white, black, brown, blue person that helped me to get to the level where I have three degrees. I am so grateful to every single one them. Women, let’s band together. There are men out there that do support us, as well. It’s not just the disparity is on us. But there are men out there who are helping us and fight and believe in destroying the disparities. So as an immigrant woman, I thank everyone in this room for giving me an opportunity to stand before you today.

    Roberta Reardon 1:35:35


    Janice Brown 1:35:36

    I would just like to make one comment on the education part as well. We know we’re pushing education, saying get education, get education. But along with education now comes what student loans. Who owns student loans? Women. We own over 70 percent of the debt when it comes to student loans. If we are going to be educating people, we got to figure out something to do with those student loans.

    Roberta Reardon 1:36:01

    That’s a great point. Thank you. Thank you.

    Beverly Cooper Neufeld 1:36:04

    If they received equal pay, they could pay that off a little bit faster.

    Janice Brown 1:36:10


    Beverly Cooper Neufeld 1:36:10

    I just want to say that was so beautiful to share that. I want you to know that there were so many people working across New York State on these issues, the partners in the room, system actions, the Y, AAUW, Better Balance, we have the reproductive rights folks here, and we’re all working together. I think that there’s really a lot of opportunity for everybody to either pick that item or to join a group or to get involved with this particular network to move it forward. Everybody just has to find their…

    Unknown 1:36:46

    Remarkably, people have an agenda that we can all work together.

    Beverly Cooper Neufeld 1:36:49

    That’s right. That’s exactly right.

    Roberta Reardon 1:36:53

    I hate to do this, I’m going to have to bring us to a close because our clock has ticked but I want to bring Pat Strach up, the director of research here at the Rockefeller Institute to close us out.

    Patricia Strach 1:37:08

    Alright, I’m going to wrap things up in a couple of minutes. I just want to say, there’s really two takeaway points that we can get from today. The first one is that it won’t be easy to close the pay gap, it has not been easy to close the pay gap. We have a concept and I’m also a political scientist in my free time, we have a concept in political science called the issue attention cycle. What happens is we discover an issue, we get very excited about it, and then we realize that it’s structural that it’s really hard to fix. Then we don’t like that issue anymore and we go on to the next one. It just cycles. One of the challenges that we have is not only finding the right solution, but keeping attention on the problem, short-term solutions and the long-term structural issues. The second takeaway I have is that government and I’m going to get my political science carpet vote for this, government is a key venue, but it is not the only venue to be working on this. There’s a great political scientist named E. E. Schattschneider, who describes politics as a street fight. If you imagine a street fight, there’s two people and they’re fighting and there’s a ring of people around watching. We are all in that ring watching right now. When we think about what is it that we do, we have to change the way we think about pay equity. There was a study done that showed organizations that address underrepresented groups, so a women’s organization, they choose the definition of issues that are important to women, as those that represent the most well-off, the glass ceiling and not the sticky floor. I think that presentation we heard from Kate today about those women who are most affected by the pay gap is really important. That’s the way we need to think about it. But it also means that we need to think about childcare and, as Jill mentioned, transportation. Transportation is a women’s issue too, if women can’t get to work. The second thing we need to do is we need to change who talks about pay equity. That is that we all to talk about pay equity. The commissioner brought up how do we access laws? If you go back and you think about that street fight, and there’s somebody big pounding on someone that’s little, it’s really hard to be that little person and to ask for help, because everyone’s standing around. If you are standing on the sidelines, and you say, and everyone should practice these words, that’s not fair and that’s not right. If you say that to somebody who’s in their office, working hard and making less money, that’s not fair and that’s not right. And you say, I’m willing to stand up with you. That’s what makes the difference. Just to bring this to a close, we talked about how do we change culture, and how do we change education, and all these very difficult things, I think it starts by changing how we deal in our own workplaces, in our own communities, and who we think is most affected by pay equity. I want to thank everyone for coming to the Rockefeller Institute today and for all of our panelists.

    Kyle Adams 1:40:07

    If you’d like to learn more, as always head to rockinst.org for more on this forum as well as our full reports and analyses of public policy. You can also find us on social media @RockefellerInst. It’s the same on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. We’ll be back next month with more insight from the Rockefeller Institute into how public policy shapes our communities and our lives and how to make it work better for everyone. Thanks again.

Policy Outsider

Policy Outsider” from the Rockefeller Institute of Government takes you outside the halls of power to understand how decisions of law and policy shape our everyday lives.

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