A New Push To Clamp Down On The Wage Gap In Cities, States

By Sarah Breitenbach

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Massachusetts, where women earn 83 percent of what men make, a slightly narrower wage gap than the national average, passed the first state law that prohibits employers from asking for job candidates’ salary history. A similar measure is expected to be introduced in the U.S. Congress.


To prepare for asking her boss for a raise, a woman might want to try negotiating for a free breakfast each time she stays at a hotel.

Practicing negotiation skills like this could help women navigate high-stakes requests at work, where they are less likely than men to request raises or promotions and are more often turned down when they do, said Megan Costello, director of Boston’s Office of Women’s Advancement.

She hopes to bring negotiating tips, like asking for free breakfast, or wheeling and dealing over meeting times with colleagues, to 85,000 of the city’s women through a free two-hour training course on how to negotiate in the workplace.

It is just one way the city is trying to whittle away a national salary gap that leaves female workers making 80 percent of what their male counterparts earn, a gap that could take more than a century to close.

And it’s another way state and local governments are attempting to reduce the gap, in addition to mandates on employers and protections for workers, while a proposed Paycheck Fairness Act that would expose employers to lawsuits if they offered different salaries for comparable work for reasons other than education and experience remains stalled in Congress.

“We’re seeing states like California and Massachusetts and Maryland pass bills that have a lot of similarities to the Pay Check Fairness Act, and we can see states act as pilots and incubate different ideas,” said Kate Nielson, a policy analyst with the American Association of University Women, or AAUW, a nonprofit that promotes education and equality for women and girls.

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