Higher Pay for Women Endorsed

Times Staff Writer

A series of recommendations designed to close the wage gap between men and women city employees and to move more women into higher-paying positions won widespread acceptance this week from the Board of City Directors.

Members of the Commission on the Status of Women, which presented the recommendations at the board meeting two weeks ago, said they were pleased that the board agreed that the city must search for ways to equalize pay for men and women who have city jobs that require equal training and responsibility.

“We got our figures (of salaries) from the city, and the disparities are very clear,” said Bernice Zurbach, president of the commission. “This board has been extremely supportive of the commission.”

The five members present at Tuesday’s board meeting lauded the commission report but stopped short of voting to take action on the commission’s recommendations. Directors Jo Heckman and William E. Thomson Jr. were absent.


Examination of Findings

Instead, the board asked for a staff examination of the commission’s findings and appointed members John Crowley and Loretta Thompson-Glickman to join commissioners in a task force for further study. Several board members said such a study might disclose a “much broader area” of inequities in employment.

Thompson-Glickman said the study will include examination of the city’s contracts with private firms. Many of the contracts do not comply with affirmative action regulations for hiring minorities and women, she said.

“You look at the work force, and there’s no way they’re complying,” Thompson-Glickman said. “We have many professional firms that are female- and minority-owned that should be candidates for city contracts.”


Results of the commission’s study on the comparable worth of city jobs, presented to the board last month, showed that Pasadena’s 351 women employees earn an average of $4,239 a year less than the 565 men employees. The study also showed that men hold most of the highest-paying managerial positions, earning an average of $7,000 a year more than women in management.

Women hold most of the lowest-paying clerical positions, and more men work in the higher-salaried blue collar jobs, the study showed. The commission recommended that the city begin paying higher wages for work performed by women and offer them greater training and advancement opportunities.

The board discussion took place as 400 delegates gathered in Pasadena for the 16th annual convention of the National Assn. of Commissions for Women. Connie Mack-Ward of Gary, Ind., who led a meeting of executive directors of the commissions, said the association first addressed the issue of comparable worth at last year’s convention in Washington. It receives high priority among commissions nationwide and is the subject of a workshop at the convention, she said.

Pasadena commissioners and board members agreed that the city’s financial pinch would probably slow the process of closing the wage gap.


“We realize the city has financial problems, but we feel the city must make a start,” said Barbara Cato, chairman of the commission’s task force on comparative worth.