First Partner Newsom visits Sac State to discuss gender wage gap

Alumna Elaine Welteroth, Assemblymember Shirley Weber joined


Cory Jaynes

From left, California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Sac State alumna and author Elaine Welteroth and California Assemblymember Shirley Weber discuss gender pay disparities at an equal pay forum in Sac State’s Carlsen Center on Tuesday, August 27.

Patrick Walsh

First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom visited Sacramento State Tuesday evening to lead a forum as part of her campaign to combat gender wage inequality.

#EqualPayCa aims to lessen the wage gap for women of color in particular. 

“In California, white women earn about 80 cents on the white man’s dollar earned,” Newsom said. “Asian women 75 cents, African American women 60 cents, and Latina women 43 cents. That’s horrific and we have a lot of work to do.”

Newsom was accompanied by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, California Assemblymember Shirley Weber and Sac State alumna and author Elaine Welteroth.

The speakers discussed the state’s income inequality between genders and lack of representation of women of color in leadership positions. 

“Unequal pay is one of the most obvious ways we devalue women,” Newsom said. “It’s humiliating, it’s unjust and it’s just plain wrong.”

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Weber highlighted how California’s wage gap is even more damaging for women of color. Weber talked about racial inequality in California’s public schools as a primary cause of income inequality. 

“Even as we talk about lifting women up we don’t talk about racism in our (public schools),” Weber said. “Racism keeps children of color at the very bottom.”

Welteroth, former editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue and author of the memoir, “More Than Enough,” spoke about employers having a lack of commitment to diversity in their hiring practices.

“Diversity and inclusion aren’t just nice words to say, they need to be business imperatives,” Welteroth said. 

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Jackson affirmed that unfair societal burdens placed on women also account for the wage gap. Jackson said women are expected to raise children in a way that men are not required to. She argued that California and other states must offer paid family leave to combat unfairness.

Sac State student attendees echoed the speakers’ feelings on the pay gap.

“The pay gap makes me upset,” child development major Trinity Wells said. “I want to do something about it but I feel like I can’t.”

Womens’ studies major Roshelle Czar said that she was “feeling a sense of empowerment” from the speakers. 

“We need to make sure that words are backed up by action,” Czar said. “More grants need to be provided for students coming from difficult situations.”

The event’s recurring theme was encouraging women to be more assertive in arguing for raises and benefits from their employers. 

Welteroth recalled advice from her first boss. 

“She told me, ‘Ask for what you want. You just might get it,’” Welteroth said.

Additional reporting by Jordan Silva-Benham and Cory Jaynes.