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Susan B. Anthony Center partners with COPE for equal pay in Rochester

April 13, 2015

Despite the passage of the Equal Pay Act in 1963, a significant pay gap still exists between men and women on a national scale. In order to help raise awareness of this issue, the Susan. B Anthony Center at the University of Rochester has partnered with the Coalition on Pay Equity (or COPE) to create a survey that explores this inequality in the Rochester area.

Catherine Cerulli

Catherine Cerulli

“Every year Equal Pay Day marks the number of extra days into the year that the average woman has to work to earn as much as men did the year before,” says Catherine Cerulli, director of the Susan B. Anthony Center. “Last year that date appeared in early April and this year it is on April 14, which raises the question: are things getting worse?”

Based on that question, Cerulli and women from several local organizations, including the Rochester chapter of the American Association for University Women (AAUW), the Susan B. Anthony House, the New York State Office of Court Administration, local legislators, and attorneys founded COPE. Honorable Evelyn Frazee led the efforts after participating in community events last year.

“The collaboration was created to work towards closing the wage gap in companies in the Rochester area, to raise awareness of this issue in our local community, and take positive steps to promote pay equality,” says Cerulli.

The group’s first project is a comprehensive survey for the Rochester community that looks at how the pay gap affects local workplaces. So far, COPE has reached out to organizations, companies, and community centers to get a better sense of the issues surrounding pay equality in Rochester. According to Cerulli, the group is committed to having the survey reach 1,000 participants, and they will be holding a private event with local community leaders on Tuesday, April 14 to talk about the goals of the survey and how the results can show what areas in local workplaces need to be improved to promote equality.

“After the survey is complete, we hope to begin some small workshops to inform people of ways to improve pay equity,” said Cerulli. “By advancing the status of women economically, we can help to progress our community’s health and economic vitality.”

COPE has created a toolkit designed to help companies, organizations, and individuals take specific actions to close the gap in wage equity. Laura Myers, from the Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys, has led this effort. The kit contains specific information and resources for women and employers on the best ways to make changes in the workplace and to handle issues of discrimination. For more information about COPE’s survey or toolkit, visit the AAUW’s website at http://rochester-ny.aauw.net/.

In addition to their collaboration with COPE, the Susan B. Anthony Center will host a career panel on Tuesday, April 14 from 6-8 p.m. in the Gowen Room in Wilson Commons on the University of Rochester’s River Campus. The discussion will feature women with careers in community health, direct action and community organizing, journalism and media, and law and public policy. The event is free and open to the public. Information on the panel discussion, which is co-sponsored by the University’s Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies, University of Rochester Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), and with support from the AAUW, can be found online at http://www.rochester.edu/sba/.

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Category: Society & Culture