RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Discussion over how to close the wage gap in North Carolina is the focus of a forum on the heels of Patricia Arquette's Oscar speech calling for wage equality.
While accepting her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, Patricia Arquette re-ignited the debate over the gender pay gap.
Arquette stated, "It's our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America."
On the heels of that speech, the issue will be front and center at a forum and roundtable discussion in RTP Tuesday, March 3 as more than 100 women in the Triangle gather to discuss "Having It All, Claim Your Worth with Confidence and Courage."
According to The National Partnership for Women and Families, a woman with a full time job in North Carolina is paid, on average, about $35,000, compared to more than $42,000 for a man.
Lisa Gabriel, President and CEO of Pinafore Wealth Counsel, Inc. points out, the wage gap can equal big amounts when added up throughout working years.
"Let's say you earn $50,000 a year over 10 years," Gabriel explains. "That's $500,000 in human capital and women don't think about that necessarily in the big picture, so, that's a lot of money."
Gabriel also points to the statistics.
"According to the North Carolina Council for Women study, professional women earn about 78 cents on the dollar," she said. "Now, for younger women, the pay gap as I understand it is lower than for older women who've been in the workforce longer. But, it's about having a strategy, having a plan, working with a coach or someone who has expertise to help you with those conversations. So you can get real good at feeling comfortable for asking for what you're worth."
But, those conversations are not easy to have, explains Sonja Neiger. Neiger is The Director of The Women's Leadership Institute where she specializes in leadership for women and closing the pay and leadership gap.
"I really see it as an area of unfairness and injustice," said Neiger. "Equal payday is April 14 this year which means women have to work until April 14, 2015 to make as much as men did in 2014."
Neiger says there are some things women can do to begin the conversation to close the
"I think it's a lack of confidence and lack of knowledge about knowing how to negotiate and negotiating really gets a bad rap," said Neiger. "It's viewed very much as a strategy rather than a conversation which is how I frame it for women. I think the first thing is to really assess where you are with the gap. Then, making sure you have a good platform and you understand some of your strengths and understand some of the areas of performance. Knowing what sets you apart from the competition and really understanding your unique value and being able to articulate it in a way that it has a market value. So, you can say these are the things I've done and this is why I deserve the compensation I do."
Neiger also points out the value may not come in the form of money.
"To me, there's always an aspect of your work that could be better," she said. "It could be pay, which is significant for us as women with the pay gap. But, there could be other things that could be valuable to us as women such as work life balance, or, even a more desirable work space or other things that can make our work better."
But, she says, the first step is about starting the conversation to close the wage gap, whether you're in Hollywood or North Carolina.
Lisa Gabriel agrees.
"We want to see that pay gap go down," Gabriel said. "We want to see women feel empowered and not be hesitant to ask to own their value to know their value."
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