by Susan Fried
Tuesday night is normally trivia night at the family-friendly Hill City Tap House, but the April 10 edition provided a bit of a twist as it hosted Feminist Trivia Takeover in honor of Equal Pay Day. Lauren Hipp, co-owner of the Tap House, welcomed people to the “celebration” of Equal Pay Day, a symbolic event dedicated to raising awareness of the Gender Pay Gap.
The party included barbeque from Emma’s BBQ next door and ice cream from Molly Moon’s. The Tap Room’s beverages came with cup sleeves listing some of the disappointing statistics about the wage gap. Namely, that white women make 70 cents compared to a white man’s dollar. For women of color it is even worse, with Black women making 63 cents, Native American women making 57 cents, and Latina women making just 54 cents for every dollar a white man makes.
One of the three “sheros” Hipp introduced to speak was Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, founder of MomsRising, an organization she established to fight for women’s pay. Rowe-Finkbeiner said she remembered a story told by a MomsRising member about how as a young woman on her first job, the member had attended an office party only to discover all of the employees with the exception of her boss was a woman. When she approached her boss about it, he explained he could pay women less.
Although Rowe-Finkbeiner was shocked by the male boss’ answer to the woman, the part of the story that stayed with her and still motivates her was what the woman said next, “I was 23 years old and I hadn’t yet realized I was less valuable than a man.” Rowe-Finkbeiner said imagining a young woman believing she has less value than a man doing the same job still nearly brings her to tears.
Continuing, Rowe-Finkbeiner said that in contrast to the federal level, Washington State is leading the way in equal pay legislation.
She then introduced City Councilmember Lorena Gonzales. The Councilmember chairs the Gender Equity, Safe Communities, New Americans and Education Committee—the only committee on the City Council that has Gender Equity in its name. Gonzales spoke about her committee’s influence on recently passed gender equity legislation including the Paid Family Leave Act and the Equal Pay Opportunity Act her fellow “Shero”, 41st Legislative District Representative Tanna Senn, helped to get passed in the Washington State Legislature.
Gonzales then passed the mic to Representative Tanna Senn who explained it took years of convincing many people in Olympia that there was even an issue with inequity in pay. Her bill, “the equal pay opportunity act” had been the first to address pay inequality in over 75 years.
All of the speakers emphasized that although there was progress being made there was much work to be done. MomsRising and Working Washington, another human rights organization, asked the people in attendance to take action by calling Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office and urging her to honor Equal Pay Day by approving the creation of a Domestic Workers’ Council.
After a few hours of celebrating Equal Pay Day, Trivia Night finally began, with the theme: “Girls Just Want Equal Funds.” The first question was “Overall how many cents to a white man’s dollar do women make on average?” It wasn’t hard to find the answer.