The Women's Fund is a Fund of the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts

135 Union Street| New Bedford, MA 02740 | 508-717-0283 | www.CFSEMA.org

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Dr. Laura Douglas's Remarks from the 2017 Leadership Breakfast

November 1, 2017

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Executive Director Blog About Living Wage

October 9, 2014

I graduated from college during the recession of the early 1990’s and had a difficult time finding employment. In 1991, I was hired as a toddler day care teacher for $6/hour, and found that I loved the work.  I took an early education class that allowed me to move up to Head Toddler Teacher at $10/hour.  Other than the director of the center, all but two of us working there relied on a husband’s wages to make ends meet.  

 

 

I went on to work as a development associate for a battered women’s sheltering organization, for better, but still low wages.  While in graduate school, I worked part-time teaching for an arts nonprofit for the high wage of $20/hour, but mostly I lived off of student loans, and had no benefits.

 

My Master’s degree launched me to a better-than-livable wage job in the Mayor’s Office in Boston. It was a salaried job with good benefits that also allowed me to learn a great deal professionally as well as make valuable career connections. Inheritance from my step-grandmother paid off my student loans. Inheritance from another grandmother helped my wife and I buy our first house. I did not have children, and I did not expect to rely on someone else's income to meet expenses.

 

This was my pathway to economic independence. I worked hard, sure. But I also had the benefit of an excellent education, key jobs that transferred skill and valuable professional connections, and inherited wealth that reduced my debt and allowed me to become a homeowner. 

My story would be a very different one if I had stayed in the child care field, or not gotten my Master’s degree, or been a single parent. 

 

My story would also be different if I were a man.  My earnings and wealth would likely have been even greater, even if I had followed the same career path.  In Massachusetts, women earn 79 cents on the dollar; white women do better than the average, with 81 cents on the dollar. Most women of color do worse; African American women earn 66 cents on the dollar and Latinas a reprehensible 54 cents.  This is a concern for women – and people – at all income levels.

 

When you combine wage inequity with low-wage jobs, it has disastrous effects. Half of New Bedford’s children grow up in single parent families headed by women's earning a median of $20,500 a year.  And these days, most married families, especially low-income families, rely on a woman’s income to get by – in a growing number of families, the woman is the primary breadwinner. For economic security and for children, we can’t afford to continue this inequity

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Join the conversation about equal wages and living wages for all women – on Facebook and Twitter, and at the October 16 Women’s Fund Leadership Breakfast --  Women and Wages: Get Even. How to Educate and Train Women and Girls for Living Wage Jobs.   #GETEVENEARNMORE #WFSEMA
 

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