Boston Women's Workforce Council Works To Fill The Wage Gap

Boston Women's Workforce Council Works To Fill The Wage Gap

Megan Costello and MaryRose Mazzola come to BU!
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In a small but rapidly growing corner of the Mayor’s Office, Megan Costello and MaryRose Mazzola work closely to bring Boston to the forefront of the gender equality movement—and they have.

Thursday, March 23, Costello and Mazzola came to Boston University to mediate a student town hall on women’s advancement and gender equality, hosted by BU’s Diversity in Law Association. The DLA invited the two leaders of the mayor’s Office of Women’s Advancement and the Boston Women’s Workforce Council to discuss women's issues in the professional world, particularly the wage gap in the greater Boston area.

Unfortunately, Boston’s approach to eliminating the wage gap and issues in gender representation is unique to Boston. No other city in the country has taken data-driven steps to actively seek out a solution to this issue by combining both public and private sector efforts. The Office of Women’s Advancement works to meet these goals with a three-pronged approach.

The first prong is legislation, a crucial step in protecting vulnerable and underrepresented populations. Most recently, Massachusetts passed the equal pay bill (one of only four states to do so), which will ensure that employers can no longer ask for salary history. Because women are currently paid less than men, by reporting a lower salary history for the same job as a male candidate, a female candidate usually ends up receiving a lower salary. The hope is that this bill will help eliminate the gap by getting rid of regulations that amplify this pattern.

The next part of this approach is the Boston Women’s Workforce Council. This Council operates under the assumption that employers have a role to play in equal pay; it is not solely the responsibility of the government or individual women. The Council works with employers, anonymously collecting data from signers, to examine the wage gap problem and to also see where gender inequality may manifest itself in a company's organizational structure. The data can show predominantly where women are in an organization, retention rates, and prevalence in managerial or leadership positions.

The Women’s Workforce Council works with employers by holding them accountable to a 100% Talent Compact. This agreement facilitates research revealing internal representation and wage gaps, ensures employer anonymity and provides employers with concrete opportunities and ways to implement solutions. Currently, this initiative has around 200 signers, each committed to the mission of promoting gender equality. The Council also holds quarterly Best Practice Conferences where representatives from these employers gather to discuss their strategies and walk away with action plans to set into motion. This interactive, transparent partnership establishes a long-missing sense of trust between the government and business that will be essential for promoting equality, both now and in the coming decades.

The third prong is free salary workshop classes for women in the Boston area. While the responsibility should not solely rest on individuals, these workshops give women the tools they need to negotiate fair salaries. Furthermore, these classes teach women how to negotiate like women. People generally think about negotiation embodying male qualities, and many women endure social and professional backlash if they negotiate the same way men do, even if they are successful. These classes teach women how to use their personal strengths to their benefit in hopes that they can overcome these social stigmas.

From the current data gathered by this initiative, much of the previous literature and public conception regarding the wage gap has been confirmed. In fact, the wage gap for the greater Boston area is slightly larger than what was previously thought according to current analyses, with women making 23 cents less to the dollar of their male peers. This also only reflects reports from participating companies, employers with an interest in minimizing this gap, implying that in reality, this gap is probably larger.

The significance of this project is how progressive Boston appears ideologically, but also how much work still needs to be done in this supposedly progressive and liberal city. Many are surprised that there is such a significant wage gap in the area; as Mazzola phrases it, it doesn't jive with people's expectations. That's where the major backlash for this initiative comes into play. But what is positive is that Mayor Walsh does in fact practice what he preaches and is leading this city toward gender equality. Just as crucial are the business leaders in Boston, "socially oriented and progressively minded," willing to join forces with the government and lead by example. These already effective initiatives are incredible markers of Costello's and Mazzola's successes, as well as the success of our city.

The Speakers:

Megan Costello, the Executive Director of The Office of Women’s Advancement started the conversation with a bit of personal background. She began her professional life by working in Newton, MA for the mayor and then spent eight months in Iowa working on Obama’s reelection campaign. She also campaigned for Sen. Ed Markey D-MA and currently works for Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. A crucial motivator behind her work is the values of Walsh, both personally and politically. Coming from a working class family, in Costello’s words, he as a lot of personal perspective gained from real-world problems like cancer, gun violence and alcoholism. His political style is both hands-on and humble, spurred on by the question, “How do we get to yes?”. After his campaign for Mayor, Walsh invited Costello to stay in his office and look into what Boston was doing for women and girls. The shocking lack of findings here drove Costello to stay in Boston and build up the city to its progressive ideal.

MaryRose Mazzola began her career in politics with a state senate campaign and proceeded to work for the senator once he had entered the office. She then became his political director for a statewide run. After her stint in the state house, Mazzola went on to graduate school for a Master’s in Public Policy at Harvard's Kenedy School, with a focus on data analysis and women’s issues. After graduating, Mazzola joined Costello in the Office of Women’s Advancement, but then returned to the campaigning to help Michelle Wu win her seat as the city council president. After that last campaign, Mazzola began her work for the Boston Women’s Workforce Council and has since been working tirelessly to bring the Council's goals to fruition.

Cover Image Credit: Anima Anwar

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I'm The Girl Who'd Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

You raise your protest picket signs and I’ll raise my white picket fence.
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Social Media feeds are constantly filled with quotes on women's rights, protests with mobs of women, and an array of cleverly worded picket signs.

Good for them, standing up for their beliefs and opinions. Will I be joining my tight-knit family of the same gender?

Nope, no thank you.

Don't get me wrong, I am not going to be oblivious to my history and the advancements that women have fought to achieve. I am aware that the strides made by many women before me have provided us with voting rights, a voice, equality, and equal pay in the workforce.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Who Would Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

For that, I am deeply thankful. But at this day in age, I know more female managers in the workforce than male. I know more women in business than men. I know more female students in STEM programs than male students. So what’s with all the hype? We are girl bosses, we can run the world, we don’t need to fight the system anymore.

Please stop.

Because it is insulting to the rest of us girls who are okay with being homemakers, wives, or stay-at-home moms. It's dividing our sisterhood, and it needs to stop.

All these protests and strong statements make us feel like now we HAVE to obtain a power position in our career. It's our rightful duty to our sisters. And if we do not, we are a disappointment to the gender and it makes us look weak.

Weak to the point where I feel ashamed to say to a friend “I want to be a stay at home mom someday.” Then have them look at me like I must have been brain-washed by a man because that can be the only explanation. I'm tired of feeling belittled for being a traditionalist.

Why?

Because why should I feel bad for wanting to create a comfortable home for my future family, cooking for my husband, being a soccer mom, keeping my house tidy? Because honestly, I cannot wait.

I will have no problem taking my future husband’s last name, and following his lead.

The Bible appoints men to be the head of a family, and for wives to submit to their husbands. (This can be interpreted in so many ways, so don't get your panties in a bunch at the word “submit”). God specifically made women to be gentle and caring, and we should not be afraid to embrace that. God created men to be leaders with the strength to carry the weight of a family.

However, in no way does this mean that the roles cannot be flipped. If you want to take on the responsibility, by all means, you go girl. But for me personally? I'm sensitive, I cry during horror movies, I'm afraid of basements and dark rooms. I, in no way, am strong enough to take on the tasks that men have been appointed to. And I'm okay with that.

So please, let me look forward to baking cookies for bake sales and driving a mom car.

And I'll support you in your endeavors and climb to the top of the corporate ladder. It doesn't matter what side you are on as long as we support each other, because we all need some girl power.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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This is Cyntoia Brown And THIS is Why She Deserves To Be Freed, Immediately

A glimpse inside the incarceration of a Tennessee woman who was sentenced to life behind bars for killing a pedophile who solicited her for sex.

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In 2004, Cyntoia Brown, a Tenessee woman, was sentenced to life in prison for killing a man who solicited her for sex when she was only 16 years old. Now, 14 years later, the court has ruled that she must serve 51 years in prison before she is eligible for parole.

So, what happened to Brown all those years ago? Brown says at the time of the murder, she was living with her abusive boyfriend who would often physically and sexually abuse her, force her to sell sex for money, and pump her full of drugs to make her more controllable.

Brown was picked up on the side of the road by a 43-year-old insurance agent named Johnny Mitchell Allen. Allen brought Brown to his home, showed her his extensive gun collection, and then came onto Brown. Brown then resisted Allen's sexual advances. After being rejected, Allen reached below his bed. Brown assumed he was reaching for a gun, and then shot Allen with her own gun out of fear of being shot herself. On the morning of the shooting, Brown's abusive boyfriend advised her that she better come home with money that day. Out of fear of her boyfriend, Brown then stole money from the dead man's wallet and left the home.

Since then, prosecutors have argued that Brown's intentions were to rob this man from the very beginning, though Brown and her lawyers insist that the shooting was done out of self-defense. It's worth noting that Tennessee law states that any sex work done by minors is ruled sex slavery. Brown was 16 years old, and practically in the custody of a man who is said to have repeatedly raped and solicited her to have sex with other men for money. She was under the control of someone stronger and more threatening than herself. She was scared and did what she thought she had to do to make it out of that situation alive.

I'm in no way condoning murdering someone. It's just pretty appalling to me how courts are so quick to send this woman to prison for the rest of her life when proven sexual predators like Brock Turner are given six-month sentences and only made to serve three for raping an unconscious woman in a park. How in the world does shooting a pedophile out of self-defense warrant a more severe punishment than raping a defenseless woman? Does this make sense to anyone? If so, please enlighten me.

Now, people across the country are pleading Tennessee governor Bill Haslam to grant Brown clemency before his term is up in a few weeks. Celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Rihanna have shared their sympathy for Brown on social media, which has garnered a lot of publicity from a younger demographic.

On Monday, Governor Haslam gave a speech on education at the Nashville Public Library. After being asked about the amount of justice within Brown's case, Governor Haslam said: "We're reviewing a lot of cases, and while Cyntoia's case has gotten a lot of publicity, I don't think you want us to treat her's any different than a whole lot of cases that I think people want us to review."

Haslam said everyone in his office is looking very deeply into Brown's case and he will make a decision on whether or not to grant Brown clemency before his term is up in a few weeks.

Haslam's conservative reputation could be impacted by his potential decision to show Brown mercy. It all comes down to how he wants to be remembered as a governor. My hope is that justice is shown and that Brown is treated as a victim of sex-slavery, rather than a killer and a thief. No person should be sent to a life behind bars for trying to defend themselves.

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