Durham County

Women are paid less than men in Durham. City may be step closer to addressing it

Women generally earn less than men in Durham.

Mayor Pro Tem Jillian Johnson read those words before the Durham City Council on Monday night in a resolution supporting the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.

Gailya Paliga, state president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), said endorsing the resolution moves the city a step closer toward “allocating a person or money for figuring out the status of women and fixing it in the system.” WomenNC, the nonprofit supporting the convention, will help Durham advisory boards with the research.

The city doesn’t currently have any funding planned for addressing gender disparities, but it could come up in next year’s budget talks.

“I’m very open to considering funding for gender equity initiatives,” Johnson said.

The Mayor’s Council for Women started meeting earlier this year after being suggested by former Mayor Pro Tem Cora Cole-McFadden, who lost her reelection bid last year. The council is working on a report of the status of women and girls in the city.

Durham County was ahead of the city on this issue, with the Durham County Board of Commissioners passing its resolution supporting the convention last year and the Durham County Women’s Commission underway for years.

The commission has a small budget — just $500 a year, said commission vice chair Kim Cameron.

“And we do a lot with that,” Cameron said.

The commission will lead a forum on pay equity Oct. 9 at the Durham County Health and Human Services building on East Main Street. It previously led a women in leadership forum.

The pay equity forum will examine how women start their jobs at a lower salary, so need to begin new jobs at a salary level that’s more equitable to their male colleagues. Women are taught not to brag about themselves, she said, but they need to promote their work.

Cameron said the commission found that, in general, women in Durham make 40 percent less than men overall.

Dolly Reaves, of the Mayor’s Council for Women, said the most obvious issue for the council is gentrification, followed by affordable child care and workforce discrimination. She also said members want to have law enforcement and social services workers who not only speak Spanish but understand Hispanic culture.

Reaves said the council wants people in the Hispanic community to feel safe when they come to police, especially about domestic violence issues.

Also Monday night, council member Javiera Caballero read the mayor’s proclamation supporting Durham as a “breastfeeding-friendly” city.

Other cities that have supported the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women include Pittsburgh, Miami, New Orleans and Los Angeles. The convention is a campaign to provide “leadership to empower local women’s organizations and other groups to protect women’s human rights in the city.”

Black Women’s Equal Pay Day

At 11 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7, community members will gather on CCB Plaza downtown to mark Black Women’s Equal Pay Day in Durham.

This day represents the day the typical African-American woman must work until in 2018 to be paid what the typical white man was paid by the end of 2017, according to organizers.

Two-thirds of African American mothers are their family breadwinners, according to a news release. Black women also play a central role in the U.S. economy. For example, from 1997 to 2018, African American women-owned businesses increase 258 percent, and African American women-owned firms earn an estimated $52.6 billion in revenue per year, the release said.

“Despite African American women’s vital importance to their families and the economy, they face unique barriers in the workplace that can undermine their ability to thrive,” said Gloria De Los Santos, Durham director of Action NC.

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: 919-419-6563, @dawnbvaughan