Pay Equality For Women A Long, Slow Climb

"That's the 'meds and eds,' and law and tech in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh," she said. "That's not oil and gas. Industry is not likely creating that."

CLOSING THE GAP

The pay gap hasn't had substantial closure in recent years, according to the National Committee on Pay Equity. Ten years of data shows no statistical change.

But local leaders and state Legislatures are taking actions that focus on trying to improve work-family balance, Milli said.

"That's a huge barrier to women's progress in the workforce and women's equality in the workforce," Milli said. "We've come so far in changing gender stereotypes and getting people to understand that women belong in the workforce. But we also have this notion that women are the primary caregivers in the family."

There has been a push toward family-friendly workplaces, Milli said. There are discussions about requiring paid maternity leave and standardizing maternity and paternity leave.

But there is a lot of work to be done, Lowe said. Women still step out of their careers for child bearing and elder care in a way that men don't, she said.

"We structure our work lives to take care of our personal lives," Lowe said.

The change will be led by social entrepreneurs working together, she said. These are people who create and execute novel, results-oriented scalable solutions to community problems.

"We're not going to solve all of this just by individuals in positions of power changing rule and changing employment situations," Lowe said. "It needs to be both top down and bottom up. We don't want closing the gap to lower us to the bottom level."

Changing the way women and men are socialized is part of that equation. Raising awareness about the problem and helping people build skills are also key, she said.

"It has many parts, and no one of them alone will unlock the solution," Lowe said. "But we'll need to unlock many parts at one time to get to a systemic answer."

The more people stepping up and working together to change perceptions and create family-friendly workplaces, the more improvement will occur in women's earnings and workplace status, Milli said.

"It's a very slow climb to women's equality," she said. "But we are getting there."

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