Seattle: Time to Live Up to Its Reputation?

Seattle is known for its liberal politics and progressivism. Diversity, equality, open-mindedness and a “live and let live” ethos go with the Pacific Northwest as naturally as, well, rain. Right? 

Wrong. It came as some surprise to the politically pious to learn from a National Partnership for Women and Families study that Seattle’s gender pay gap is the worst in the United States.

How could Seattle – the liberal bastion of Washington state – be so lacking in a most-basic measure of equality? In a recent Seattle Times editorial Sharon Pian Chan notes:

Our city is so smug about its progressiveness. But it has been 85 years since Seattle had a woman mayor. All but one of the declared eight mayoral candidates are men. One out of three state legislators is a woman, down from 40 percent in 2000… Representation on corporate boards? Dismal. Microsoft, Starbucks, Costco, Boeing and each have two women on boards of 9 to 14 directors. Take a close look in the mirror, Seattle. I spy a 5 o’clock shadow.

For those looking to clear such serious tarnish from the city’s image, there’s hope. Congress has a great opportunity to push our country into the 21st century by passing the Paycheck Fairness Act – a bill that would improve the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and create new tools for women to fight wage discrimination. It’s also important to acknowledge that having every voice at the decision table matters and work to elect more women to office. Organizations like the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington are working to identify, train and elect exceptional women.

Let the conversation—and change—begin.

[Image courtesy of Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division]