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City Government Study Will Compare Pay, Titles, Promotions Of Women And Men

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council will take a final vote tomorrow on whether to authorize the city to conduct a government-wide gender equity study. Pittsburgh’s Gender Equity Commission would oversee the study.

The idea is to use data to pinpoint where discrimination is showing up, said anupama jain, the commission’s executive director.

“We know that there are lots of gaps between men and women in terms of pay equality, in terms of leadership roles. We see many more men in leadership roles than we do women, across almost every sector,” she said. “But why is this happening?”

After an extensive request for proposals process, the commission selected an interdisciplinary team from the University of Pittsburgh to conduct the analysis. The team will use a tool also employed by the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women. While the United States is not a ratifying party of the 1979 treaty that created the convention, a number of American cities have used the analysis to identify barriers to genuine gender equity, said jain.

The research team will work with all city departments, requesting records, conducting interviews, and examining things such as pay, titles, and promotions.

Exactly how the commission will share the data depends on what the research team finds, but jain said they expect to make recommendations for changes in policy and practices.

“And highlight effective ways to create sustainably equitable environments everywhere people in the city work,” she said. “I know that last piece is super visionary, and it’s meant to be. If we succeed ... the vision is to create a city where no one is discriminated against or feels excluded.”

Valerie McDonald-Roberts is the city’s chief urban affairs officer. She credited former city councilor Natalia Rudiak with having the political will to urge formation of the Gender Equity Commission and to push for the gender analysis.

“There’s gender equity problems throughout the world, I mean, it is absolutely everywhere,” she said. “We talk about implicit bias. This is an area of implicit bias ... it’s morally and ethically wrong.”

If council approves the resolution, the study is expected to get underway by early 2019.

Margaret J. Krauss is WESA’s senior reporter. She covers development and transportation, and has produced award-winning podcasts on housing, work, and Pittsburgh’s lesser-known history. Before joining the newsroom full time, she covered the challenges facing Pennsylvania cities as a statewide reporter, and spent another life as an assistant editor for National Geographic Kids Magazine in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at mkrauss@wesa.fm.
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