The Leadership Conference is working diligently to see that Tom Perez is confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Labor. Perez is an eminently qualified public servant and consensus builder who has dedicated his career to ensuring that all individuals are treated fairly and have the opportunity to succeed. He has served with integrity and distinction at the local, state and national level, compiling an outstanding record of achievement.
Women's Equality Day 2005 - Fact Sheet
Americans for a Fair Chance - October 10, 2005
Although progress has been made over the last 30 years, ensuring equal opportunity for women remains an elusive goal. Gains women have made in higher education and employment are due in part to access to equal opportunity and affirmative action programs. Affirmative action is a tool to provide qualified individuals with equal access to opportunities in higher education and employment.
Nationally and in Michigan, affirmative action programs, including recruitment, outreach, and training initiatives, have played a critical role in providing women with access to educational and professional opportunities they would otherwise have been denied despite their strong qualifications.
Continued use of affirmative action in Michigan is necessary to help break down barriers to opportunity and ensure that all Americans have a fair chance to demonstrate their talents and abilities. Consider the following facts:
- Michigan ranks as the second to last state with the largest wage gap between women and men. Michigan women earn only 67 cents for every dollar men earn. ("The Status of Women in Michigan," Institute for Women's Policy Research, November 2004)
- On the national level women earn approximately 77 cents for every dollar men earn. Minority women fare significantly worse - black women earn 66 cents, while Hispanic women earn 56 cents for every dollar men earn. ("Highlights of Women's Earnings in 1999," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, May 2000)
- Discrimination still exists today. For example, one of the largest anti-discrimination cases in history is currently being considered in court, with women suing Wal-Mart for paying them less and holding them back from the management opportunities enjoyed by their male counterparts. Wal-Mart is the nation's largest private employer with the majority of the company's employees being women. (www.walmartclass.com) Also, just last summer, Wall Street firm Morgan Stanley settled out of court $54 million for discriminating against women. ("Press Release: EEOC and Morgan Stanley Announce Settlement of Sex Discrimination Lawsuit," Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, July 2004)
- Today, women remain severely underrepresented in non-traditional occupations even though these jobs pay 20-30 percent more than traditionally female jobs. In 2002, for example, women were only 10.8 percent of all engineers; 1.4 percent of all auto mechanics; 1.8 percent of all carpenters; 30.6 percent of all doctors; and 29.2 percent of all lawyers. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, Table 11, June 2003)
- The U.S. Department of Labor's Glass Ceiling Commission report, released in March 1995, showed that while white men are only 43 percent of the Fortune 2000 work force, they hold 95 percent of the senior management jobs. A report from Catalyst reveals that only 5.2 percent of the top-earnings officers in Fortune 500 companies are women. ("Census of Women Corporate Officers and Top Earners of the Fortune 500," Catalyst, 2002)
- Sex discrimination, including sexual harassment, continues to be a serious barrier to the advancement of women. Last year, 24,249 individual sex discrimination complaints were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This number includes over 13,000 sexual harassment claims -up significantly from the 10,500 filed in 1992. (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Sexual Harassment Charges FY 1992- FY 2004;Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Sex-Based Charges FY 1992 - FY 2004)
- Even though women-owned firms represent an estimated 30 percent of all businesses in the United States, their firms have obtained a mere 3 percent of the $277.5 billion in federal government contracts awarded in fiscal year 2003. This is still short of the five percent goal Congress established in 1994. (National Women's Business Council: Federal Contracting with Women-Owned Businesses FY1998-FY2003, October 2004; Women Business Owners and their Enterprises, March 2005)
Affirmative action programs in education not only ensure that women and girls have equal access to quality education but also encourage females to enter traditionally male-dominated fields where it is well-documented that salaries are often higher.
- Only 20 percent of women in Michigan have four or more years of college education. According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, this means Michigan ranks 37th in comparison to other states. ("The Status of Women in Michigan," Institute for Women's Policy Research, November 2004)
- While Michigan women have made gains in access to higher education, earning 57 percent of all bachelor's degrees and 58 percent of all master's degrees, they earned only 45 percent of professional degrees and 41 percent of doctorate degrees, which falls below the national average in the same category. ("Census 2000: Educational Attainment for Population 18 years and Over by Sex and Age," Michigan Information Center, 2000)
Affirmative action programs have opened up job opportunities for qualified women to achieve higher wages, advance in the workplace, and seek nontraditional careers that make them better able to meet the financial needs of their families.
- A Department of Labor study estimated that 5 million minority workers and 6 million women are in higher occupational classifications today than they would have been without the affirmative action policies of the 1960s and 1970s. ("Affirmative Action Helps Boost Women's Pay and Promotes Economic Security for Women and Their Families," National Partnership for Women and Families)