DENVER – Organizations throughout Colorado recognized Equal Pay Day Tuesday, a day used to raise awareness about the gender pay gap.
“Equal Pay Day is the day that marks how many extra days into the new year the average woman would have to work in order to make the same amount that a man had made through December 31 of last year,” said Christina Huber, Metropolitan State University of Denver economics professor. “Women make about 80 to 83 cents on the dollar for every man.”
Huber said thanks to anti-discrimination laws, pay discrimination based on gender has significantly decreased, but several other factors contribute to the gender pay gap.
“Women tend to be overrepresented in the lower paying jobs, like nurses, daycare workers, elementary school teachers, those types of things. And men are more represented in the higher paying jobs,” she said. “If you take into account the fact that men and women are working very different types of jobs, that in itself covers about a third of the gender gap. But if we compare men and women working the same job, then you know, the gender gap shrinks to about 88 cents on the dollar.”
Huber said family dynamics also play a role.
“When women get married and have children, their wages are actually lower compared to unmarried women who don't have children. So there's some sort of wage penalty to being a mother. But for men, we talk about the male marriage premium. So their wages, the wages for married men who are fathers, are actually higher than the wages for unmarried non-fathers. So men get some sort of wage boost from being married and being fathers, and women get, you know, a wage penalty,” she said.
In 2012, KK DuVivier, a tenured professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law learned she and nine other female law professors were making less than their male colleagues.
“Certain males were definitely making, like, $100,000 more than certain women,” DuVivier said. “DU just said, 'There's nothing wrong with this picture.' So the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission actually brought the lawsuit on behalf of us against the University of Denver for equal pay.”
The university eventually settled the lawsuit with DuVivier and her colleagues.
“I feel very privileged that I had nine colleagues that were in the same boat, so I wasn't in this alone,” she said. “We did get some settlement money, I did get a raise. And so, I feel like I have a duty to pay it forward to other people. I mean, I have a daughter, and I have already seen that she's encountered some equal pay issues. And so I just feel that this is some of my mission. You know, I'm fortunate I have tenure, and I didn't have to quit my job as part of the settlement. So, I want to get the word out there.”
DuVivier said the gender pay gap has closed slightly at the Sturm College of Law, but that progress has not been applied to other departments. She said there’s still work to do.
“I was the first woman geologist in a company. I was the first woman in a class at Williams College. So I've been a pioneer, and I'm so glad that I had those opportunities. And I hope that they're making way for new women to come in. And from what I hear from my daughter, it's not all fixed, but it is better and so I'm excited about that,” DuVivier said.
DuVivier said she’s hopeful that her story inspires others to have tough conversations about the gender pay gap.