by Ximena Leyte Escalante, Marketing and Engagement Coordinator at Women Employed

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Ximena Leyte Escalante

There’s a common fallacy around the pay gap that causes many women to believe a systemic issue such as pay inequity doesn’t translate to a personal one. I know this because I am one of those women. One of my first jobs was working at a retail store as a sales associate. I enjoyed the work, primarily because the clientele was predominantly Spanish speaking, allowing me to use my bilingualism to drive up sales and provide a pleasant experience for our Spanish speaking customers. I was making minimum wage, which at the time in Colorado was $7.78 an hour. About a year later I received exciting news that I was being promoted as a temporary sales lead while one of our sales leads was getting ready to take her maternity leave. The promotion came with a $1 pay increase and a path to becoming a sales lead permanently. Maybe even a manager one day! As now a sophomore in college, this was a very exciting opportunity. …

If you’re like us, you’re a little (or a LOT) worried about the future right now. You want to stand up for women, people of color, low-paid workers, and other vulnerable groups. You want to make sure we sustain our efforts in the fight for justice and liberation. Here are seven ways you can raise your voice effectively and continuously for change. Because together, we are stronger.

1. Call your elected officials. Yes, on the phone.

We’re all used to sending emails. But the truth is, a phone call carries a lot more weight. While your email will get counted and filed, when you call, somebody in your elected official’s office has to listen to you — your voice, your concerns, your good wishes, your humanity. …

To Be Successful, We Must Involve Employers in the Conversation

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Schools across Illinois and the country have begun reopening. With that has come a tangled web of considerations for parents, schools, and employers that highlights how interdependent our systems of work, childcare, and education are. It also reveals how precarious the balance is, particularly when it comes to considering the health, safety, and well-being of women in low-paying jobs and their families, disproportionately people of color and immigrants. The situation is particularly fraught for single parents, low-income families, and those without flexible jobs, whose ability to work is so often contingent on their children attending in-person school. …

By Cherita Ellens, President & CEO of Women Employed

Even though our communities would collapse without their work, as a society, we don’t treat Black women as essential.

The pay gap for Black women has only narrowed by nineteen cents from 1967 to 2018. Black women are paid, on average, thirty-eights cents on the dollar less than white men. This loss represents $1,962 per month, $23,540 per year, and a staggering $941,600 over a 40-year career. Ultimately, this affords Black women less opportunity to build wealth and economic security for themselves and their families.

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Thursday, August 13th is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. It’s the day that represents how far into 2020 the average Black woman has to work for her earnings to catch up to what a white man earned in 2019. It’s a sobering fact, and it’s a call to action. …

By Cherita Ellens, President & CEO of Women Employed; and Felicia Davis, President & CEO of Chicago Foundation for Women

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We are witnessing a shift in this country in how we discuss, address and take action against racism. Policies are being created that uphold the rights of citizens who have historically been neglected. Monuments symbolizing racism and the horrific history of slavery are coming down. Corporations are making bold stands aimed against racism and toward improving racial equity. And, very long overdue, raw and meaningful conversations are happening around where we go from here.

The women’s movement has a responsibility to move past conversation toward shaping consequential action and change. Why should those involved in the gender equity movement also lend their voices to fight for racial equity? The answer is very simple — achieving gender equality for women is not possible without addressing the hurdles created by systemic racism and sexism. Gender and racial equity are intertwined and inextricably linked, and this is the moment for us to center the needs and voices of women of color. Teresa Younger, the CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women, stated in an interview with Quartz last year that “the biggest obstacle is that we keep trying to silo issues and that we’re not seeing them as interconnected.” In addition to race and gender, Younger referred to other connections, such as between healthcare and reproductive rights and pay equity and workplace equality. …

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By Anna Valencia, Chicago City Clerk; Barb Yong, Chair of the Equal Pay Day Chicago Coalition; Cherita Ellens, CEO, Women Employed; Linda Xóchitl Tortolero, President & CEO, Mujeres Latinas en Acción; Dorri McWhorter, CEO, YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago; Felicia Davis, President and CEO, Chicago Foundation for Women

Before COVID-19, 40% of Americans reported they would struggle to cover an unexpected $400 expense, according to a Federal Reserve study. Imagine how that number will change in the coming weeks. …

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The COVID-19 crisis has had far-reaching impacts on students at all levels, as K-12 schools, colleges, and other institutions of learning across the country have closed and/or gone digital. Many of the adult students for whom Women Employed advocates have been especially affected, as they often don’t have the resources, technology, or appropriate study spaces to make online learning possible.

We have compiled these resources to help keep those students safe, and to help those who are differentially impacted to access support and resources needed to get through this crisis. We will update this list as new information becomes available.

We have also created a separate list of resources available to working people and families that can also provide income and basic-need supports for students, including information on accessing unemployment benefits, small business loans, mortgage and debt relief, resources for victims of domestic violence, and so much more.

Spring break during a pandemic: sewing face masks, “staycationing,” and packing up my college kid’s residence hall room from 2,000 miles away

Like many of you, right now we are on spring break, and were supposed to be on a big family vacation with my parents, brother’s family, and friends. Instead we are “sheltering-in-place” (one of the many new phrases that is now part of our collective vocabulary), “social distancing” from our friends (though I prefer “physical distancing”), “e-learning,” and remote working. However, we are lucky. Women Employed has the technology which allows me to work from home, my husband works in a sterile and not very populated science lab, and we’re all kind of homebodies anyway so on some level this has not really disrupted our lives significantly if I’m honest. …

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Women Employed is working to ensure that our policy makers and leaders take bold and decisive action in response to this public health and economic crisis to mitigate the damage and put us in the best position to emerge as strong and stable as possible. Since our inception, our focus has been on the economic stability and security of working women and their families, particularly those in low-paid sectors where women, and particularly women of color, are overrepresented. In many ways, working women are especially vulnerable in this moment, faced with an impossible choice between taking care of their families and working, having no work because their sector has rapidly shut down, or in a position where their work puts them at the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Remote Work, Homeschooling, and Virtual Visits with My Mom

Just a couple weeks ago, I was still worrying about driving my son to dance class and picking up my oldest daughter from high school softball practice. I was focused on the Magic School Bus book report project my first-grade twins were working on. And I was knee deep in planning and participating in events celebrating Women’s History Month.

Clearly my priorities have shifted, and I’m sure yours have too.

The entire Women Employed team has moved to a mandatory virtual office. …


Women Employed

WE relentlessly pursue equity for women in the workforce by effecting policy change, expanding access to education, & advocating for fair, inclusive workplaces.

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