Valley 'equal pay pioneer' has advice on closing pay gap between men and women

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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Tuesday, April 14, marked “Equal Pay Day,” a date that symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.

According to the White House, full-time working women earn 77 percent of what their male counterparts earn.

On Tuesday, the City of Phoenix recognized equal pay pioneer Lilly Ledbetter, who sued the Goodyear Tire Company because she was making significantly less than her male counterparts.

So what do you do if you find yourself on the wrong side of the pay scale?

Many women's rights activists say it comes down to learning some basic bargaining tactics.

“They say women do not negotiate well enough,” says Ledbetter, describing one reason women still earn less than men.

So what does this civil rights pioneer have to say about closing the equality pay gap?

“You've got to negotiate that pay and get it up front,” she advises.

It may sound simple. But for many women, it isn't.

“Oftentimes it's not part of what families teach their children, their girls. They don't encourage that,” says Linda Hallman, the CEO and director of the American Association of University Women.

She made the trip to phoenix with Ledbetter to promote Equal Pay Day.

“That's why they need to go through some type of course, or be aware of what's available to them,” says Hallman.

One place woman can learn stronger bargaining skills is the YWCA, which offers class to help working women.

Regina Edwards runs the phoenix YWCA where these classes are held.

She recommends women research what others in their career are making.

“Make sure you are very specific about what your contributions have been,” Edwards also advises.

Edwards says women often underestimate their value to a company.

This, she says, will cost them.

“One of the important aspects of equal pay is to help women learn and think about to talk about their wages,” says Edwards.

On Wednesday, the focus on pay shifts to fast food workers, as there will be several demonstrations across the Valley calling on these companies to raise their wages

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