Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Most Livable City for Whom?

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Most Livable City for Whom?

Article excerpt

You don't belong there."

These first words spoken to me upon my arrival in Miami in 2010 were less than encouraging. The customs officer was questioning the decision of a young Latina woman entering the country to attend a historically black university. Happily, his bias was quickly tempered with a smile and a "welcome to the United States" as I headed off to pursue my version of the American dream.

A volleyball scholarship was my ticket to become the first woman from the San Juan de Lurigancho District of Peru to graduate with honors from an American university. And without that experience, I never would have discovered what was completely missing from my earlier education in Lima. Women. They weren't mentioned in history. They weren't mentioned in science. They weren't mentioned in literature.

My first opportunity to read a book written by a woman was in college. At the age of 20, reading "Sula" by Tony Morrison, I discovered the feminist inside me and set a goal of empowering women back home.

I'm grateful for all the opportunities that the United States has given me, especially here in Pittsburgh. This city has opened its doors and allowed me to become one of its Coro fellows. I am gaining experience in a variety of public affairs arenas through field placements. I'm now working at the Women and Girls Foundation, where I've had the opportunity to work on my passion: women's empowerment.

My first assignment - to organize Pittsburgh's Equal Pay Day Rally, which will be held Thursday at noon in Market Square - had me smiling from ear to ear as I dove into research for the project.

I knew that, on average, U.S. women working full-time are paid just 77 percent of what U.S. men are paid. What I didn't know is that Pittsburgh is on the top 10 list for the worst-paying cities for women - and that across Pennsylvania, Latinas are paid just 58 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.

I was in shock. How is it possible that what I considered a progressive city, one full of opportunities for young professionals, has such an awful gender wage gap? I could not help but remember the words of the customs agent upon my arrival - and wonder if perhaps Pittsburgh was a place where I did not belong.

Intrigued, I continued my research.

According to the National Partnership for Women & Families, on average a woman in the Pittsburgh metro area who holds a full-time job is paid $36,726 per year while a man who holds a full-time job is paid $50,133. This means that women in the Pittsburgh area are paid 73 cents for every dollar paid to men here, amounting to a yearly gap of $13,407. This gap holds true when you compare workers in similar occupations and with similar levels of education.

As a group, women employed full-time in the Pittsburgh area fall behind by approximately $4,544,128,359 each year due to the wage gap. …

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