Thursday, April 14, 2011

April is National Volunteer month-get involved!

This month, we're highlighting various volunteer groups with long histories of contributing to the betterment of America. To kick it off, we're focusing on the 129-year-old AAUW (American Association of University Women), a nationwide network of more than 100,000 members and donors, 1,000 branches, and 500 college/university institution partners. The AAUW is a group founded and mainly run by volunteers. It's goal: advancing 'equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, and research'. Each year, it gives fellowships, scholarships, grants, and awards to worthy causes at both the national and local level. And the group calls attention to key women's issues, such as the persistent gender pay gap.

Did you know that, according to a study in 2009, women working full time in the United States still earned just 77 percent, on average, of what men earn? Ouch! That's a gap of 23 percent, and while the gap has narrowed since the 1970s, that's due largely to women’s progress in education and workforce participation and to men’s wages rising at a slower rate. Progress has stalled in recent years, and the pay gap does not appear likely to go away on its own.

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) has been on the front lines of the fight for pay equity since 1913, according to their website. And when President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act of 1963 into law, AAUW members were right there in the Oval Office. And here it is, almost 50 years later, and still the AAUW continues to lead the push for policies and legislation to encourage and enforce fair pay in the workplace.

Sometimes it must seem like an uphill battle. In November 2010, the Senate failed to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have given women additional and much-needed
equal pay protections. Oh well, 77 percent of a paycheck for the same work a man does is good enough for our sisters, daughters, mothers and aunts, isn't it, folks?

Get involved: Learn about the gender pay gap, or join the AAUW.

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COPYRIGHT Lora Finnegan 2008-2009

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