On Tuesday, Vermont proclaimed April 12, 2016 Equal Pay Day, a day shedding light on the wage gap between men and women.
“I am proud to proclaim April 12, 2016 as Equal Pay Day in Vermont,” says Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Desiree Cerratani couldn’t agree more.
“I was the only girl in my classes and the teachers could not remember my name. This was very disheartening for me and when the first year was over I took some time off and looked for a better solution.”
At 29 years old she’s now a mechanical engineer at UTC Aerospace Systems in Vergennes and she’s inspiring the next generation of women workers.
“We have to remove the mindset of I am not good at school,” says Cerratani who says she hears young girls say this time and time again.
Unfortunately Change the Story Vermont and other state wide organizations, released a new report showing men and women’s wages are far from equal.
According to the report, the median annual income for full time working women in Vermont is $37,000 that’s $7,000 less than men.
Dozens of women dressed in red at the State House to signify just how many women are in the red due to the gender wage gap.
“Occupational therapy is the norm in Vermont, 15 out of 25 occupations that are tracked by the US census are either 70 percent male or female,” says Tiffany Bluemle of Change the Story Vermont.
She says the data shows women in Vermont are not choosing to go into fields they are qualified for, such as the sciences.
She points to Desiree to show it takes persistence, but the opportunities are there.
“I worked very hard to make difficult situations into learning experiences and my family can attest,” says Desiree. “I am quite stubborn and when someone told me I couldn’t be an engineer or get the highest grade in the class, I would say to them oh yea watch this.”
According to the report, the poverty rate for families headed by single women is 37.5 percent, nine times the poverty rate of married couples.