Senator Kirsten Gillibrand calls for equal pay for women at event co-sponsored by NYU Law Women

U.S. Senator Kirsten GillibrandU.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York led women’s advocates and local politicians in calling for equal pay for women on Monday, April 16, at the 6th annual Equal Pay Day NYC. Dean Richard Revesz welcomed a nearly packed house at the Law School’s Tishman Auditorium and Stephanie Bazell '13 of NYU Law Women, an event sponsor, stressed why women need greater representation among law firm partners and law school administrators.

Responding to questions from PBS journalist Maria Hinojosa, Senator Gillibrand stressed that equal pay is an issue that affects all Americans because most families have two wage earners. The senator championed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a 2009 law that allows employees more time to file lawsuits alleging pay discrimination, and now hopes to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation aimed at addressing pay disparity between men and women.

On stage, clad in a suit and a scarlet-red scarf—red to show that women’s salaries are still “in the red”—Gillibrand offered a litany of sobering statistics: The wage gap amounts to between $400,000 and $1 million in lost earnings for each woman over her lifetime, depending on her education level. Seven percent of women negotiate the salary for their first job, while 57 percent of men do. And while things have improved since the Mad Men era, when women earned 59 cents for every dollar that men are paid, today women make only 78 cents on the dollar. This issue is especially concerning to women of color, as African American woman make 72 cents and Latino women make 59 cents on the dollar.

Gillibrand encouraged female law students to know their worth and demand equal pay, whether that means the same salary or the same billable rate as male colleagues. She urged women to mentor each other, no matter how advanced they were in their careers.

The event continued with a panel featuring C. Nicole Mason of the Women of Color Policy Network, Serena Fong of Catalyst, a non-profit organization that advances women in business, and Galit Ben-Joseph of asset management firm Neuberger Berman. Several local politicians including John Liu, Letitia James and Liz Krueger also underscored the importance of equal pay in the final panel of the day.

Watch the full video of the event (1 h 40 mind):

Posted on April 19, 2012