University of Pittsburgh
February 18, 2009

Pitt Feb. 20 Gender Wage Gap Conference Explores National and Regional Pay Inequality, From Scope to Solutions

Participants will discuss the latest research on and legal and public policy responses to wage disparity, as well as offer strategies for women to close the wage gap Panels feature scholars and policy experts, including a keynote by Jocelyn Frye, formerly with the National Partnership for Women and Families and newly appointed policy director for First Lady Michelle Obama
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-The University of Pittsburgh will host a daylong conference of nationally recognized wage-disparity scholars and equal-pay advocates Feb. 20 beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the Teplitz Memorial Courtroom, Barco Law Building, 3900 Forbes Ave., Oakland. Titled The Gender Wage Gap: Strategies for the Future, the conference is sponsored by Pitt's School of Law, University Center for Social and Urban Research (UCSUR), Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA), and the College of General Studies (CGS).

The program begins at 9 a.m. with a keynote address from Jocelyn Frye, who served as general counsel of the National Partnership for Women and Families, which advocates for working parents on issues ranging from equal pay to family leave. She also directed the partnership's Workplace Fairness Program and was actively involved in securing passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act signed into law Jan. 29, the first bill signed by President Barack Obama. Frye is the newly appointed director of policy and projects for First Lady Michelle Obama and deputy assistant to President Obama for domestic policy.

The first panel begins at 10:15 a.m. and will survey some of the latest research into gender wage disparity. The panel includes Lise Vesterlund, a Pitt professor of economics, who studies the small number of women in top corporate positions; Duquesne University economics professor Charles Wilf, who launched a survey of graduating college seniors that found that female students expect to earn less than males; Pitt professors Sabina Deitrick, codirector of UCSUR's Urban and Regional Analysis Program; and Chris Briem, an UCSUR regional economist. In March 2008, Deitrick, Briem, and Pitt political science professor Susan Hansen released a report to the public that revealed that the wage gap between men and women in the Pittsburgh region exceeds the national average ( Deitrick will moderate the panel.

Linda Babcock, coauthor of the book "Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide" (Princeton University Press, 2003), will deliver the second keynote address at noon. A Carnegie Mellon University professor of economics, Babcock studies gender differences in negotiations and dispute resolution. Her book-coauthored with writer and editor Sara Laschever-found that women are much less likely than men to use negotiation to improve their circumstances, costing them lost wages and delayed career advancement.

The second panel begins at 1:45 p.m. and examines legal and public policy responses to wage disparity. The panel includes Heather Arnet, executive director of the Women and Girls Foundation and a Pittsburgh Public Schools board member; Pitt law professor Deborah Brake, a nationally recognized scholar on gender discrimination who testified before Congress in 2008 in support of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; Pennsylvania State Senator Jane Orie (R-McCandless), who has advocated for pay equity in the Pennsylvania legislature; and Pittsburgh City Council President Doug Shields, who has supported research into equal wages among city employees. Susan Frietsche, a senior staff attorney at the Women's Law Project, a nonprofit legal advocacy organization for women, will moderate the panel.

The third panel, beginning at 3:30 p.m., features successful female graduates of Pitt's College of General Studies offering strategies for women to succeed in the workplace and close the wage gap. The panelists include Mary Francis Gargotta (CGS '79), executive vice president and chief executive resources officer of MARC USA in Pittsburgh; Terri Marts (CGS '81), president of URS Corporation's Washington Defense Group, a $600-million business unit that contracts with the U.S. government; and Anna Roman (CGS '82). Pitt political science professor Susan Hansen, who studies women and politics, will moderate the panel.

This course has been approved by the Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Board for five and one-half (5.5) hours of substantive credit. Pay at the door with a check for $40 made payable to the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. For further information regarding CLE, call 412-648-1305.

For the conference schedule or to register, visit the Pitt Law School Web site at or call 412-648-7796.

Brief biographies of the conference participants can be found at