The American Association of University Women (AAUW) of Devils Lake attended the city commission meeting on Monday, April 2 with a special request for Devils Lake Mayor Richard Johnson.

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) of Devils Lake attended the city commission meeting on Monday, April 2 with a special request for Devils Lake Mayor Richard Johnson.

State President of AAUW, Theresa Leiphon, asked him to proclaim April 10 as Equal Pay Day in the city. She explained that this is the day when the wages paid to American women catch up to the wages paid to men from the previous year. For women of ethnic minorities, the catch-up date comes much later. Although it is 2018, there remains a pay gap in the United States where men make more pay than women for the same work. In the U.S. women make 80 percent of what a man makes in the same position, doing the same job. In North Dakota it’s 74 percent.

They illustrated this to Mayor Johnson and the commissioners by handing out Payday candy bars, courtesy of Fairview Grocery. Leiphon told them that when they eat their candy bar, they should bite off 26 percent of it, or a little over one quarter of the bar, and toss that away. That simple illustration shows the gender pay gap that exists. Leiphon added that in North Dakota, according to statistics provided through social services, 42 percent of all households in the state the mothers are the primary bread winners. She said, “Closing the gender gap could lead to greater economic security and less poverty for the mothers who support their families on their own throughout the U.S. and in North Dakota.

“By proclaiming April 10 as Equal Pay Day in Devils Lake, AAUW hopes that employers will commit to fair pay for all their workers and that policy makers will stand up for enforcement of existing equal pay laws and support the passage of laws that give everyone the right to equal pay for equal work.”

According to the AAUW report titled “The Simple Truth” it is getting better, however. Nationally the gap is now at 80 percent, where not long ago it was the same as North Dakota’s present pay gap, 74 percent. At this rate of improvement, however, it will be the year 2059 before current trends bring an end to the gender pay gap. After hearing the case that the gender pay gap exists in the country and right here in Devils Lake, the commissioners voted unanimously to approve AAUW’s request and the mayor signed the proclamation.

AAUW has a long history in North Dakota and the Devils Lake affiliate is celebrating its 60th anniversary. They bring the “Meet the Candidate” forums to the community as well as co-sponsoring the Community Book Sale and a scholarship endowment at Lake Region State College.