San Diego Union-Tribune: Policy makers discuss empowerment of women

By Allison Sampite-Montecalvo

On the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act, two influential women with the authority to create policy said more work needs to be done to empower women as leaders.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and U.S. Rep. Susan Davis, D-San Diego, led a seminar Monday on equality at Southwestern College and focused on the importance of mentoring and creating opportunities for young, minority women.

Jo Dee Jacob, CEO of Girl Scouts San Diego said it’s important for young women to pursue science, technology, engineering and math — all problem-solving fields.

“It’s absolutely critical that girls in particular do not opt out of that career path,” Jacob said.

Pelosi agreed.

“We have to urge corporate America to place more women in higher positions in the STEM field,” Pelosi said. “We have to have the attitude of ‘it’s going to happen.’”

Darcie Vargas, 16, has been involved in Hermanitas through MANA de San Diego, a mentorship program for youth ages 12 to 18. A student at Sweetwater High and the oldest of four sisters, she said it’s important for her to be a role model.

“Sometimes I feel intimidated but I’m the voice of the future and I want to make a difference,” Darcie said.

The Equal Pay Act was enacted by President John. F. Kennedy in 1963 to establish equal pay and work for women. Women today earn an average of 77 cents for every dollar that men make, according to the federal government.

However, President Barack Obama marked the anniversary by calling on Congress to push forward with the Paycheck Fairness Act, a legislative update to strengthen and close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act.

“Our work is not done yet,” Davis said. “There needs to be a critical mass so that we can learn from one another and know that there’s support.”

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