This is a story about my mother. Leisa is a well educated woman and works as an electrical engineer in a heavily male dominated profession. She had a great paying job working for a contractor for NASA at Johnson Space Center in Houston. She was happy there, but when a job fair came to town, she decided to see what else was out there. Well, to her surprise she was offered a position that paid $30,000 a year more than her current salary. Of course, she took the new position. Once at her new company, she was asked if she knew of any other engineers she could recruit that spoke Russian. She had the perfect candidate and was given a salary to offer him.
This is when the shock came. When she offered him the annual salary of $105,000, he stated, “I don’t know if I would want to take the position for a $5,000 a year raise.” My mother was stunned. She had more than 20 years of experience and was making $75,000 a year compared to her male co-worker with only 10 plus years who was making $100,000 a year. She had no idea she was being paid $25,000 less than her male co-worker, but her eyes were opened to the reality of the wage gap.
She is now a member of 9to5, and shares her story to help others. She wants to shed light on the ongoing pay gap that is still shortchanging women. Her experience proves that there is a bias against women – both implicit and explicit – and it exists in the science and engineering fields.
We need to pass proactive policies like the federal Fair Pay Act (H.R. 1519/S. 797) to end pay disparities. This legislation would eliminate loopholes that have undermined the effectiveness of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, protect workers who share wage information with each other, and help ensure that women get equal pay for equal work.