Gender salary gap topic of talk at CSUSB by Aileen Rizo
Office of Strategic Communication
Shouldn’t women earn the same as men for the same work?
That’s the question math educator Aileen Rizo took all the way to a federal appeals court as part of her effort to change the way women are paid in California — and beyond.
The equal-pay advocate and former California State Assembly candidate is scheduled to speak on campus on Monday, Sept. 30, as part of Cal State San Bernardino’s College of Natural Sciences Gerald M. Scherba Lecture Series.
The talk is open to the public and scheduled for 11 a.m. in the university’s John M. Pfau Library Multimedia Center (PL-5005). Parking at CSUSB is $6.
Rizo will discuss her experiences filing a wage-discrimination lawsuit, raising awareness about the gender pay gap, and spearheading a call for more diversity in mathematics and other STEM fields.
“Since excellence, diversity and harmony are some of the values we embrace at the College of Natural Sciences, Aileen Rizo’s work to ensure that there is equality in the workplace as well as in STEM fields, such as mathematics, is important to share,” said Sastry G. Pantula, dean of the College of Natural Sciences. “Her work should benefit our students, faculty, staff and alumni in doing the right thing for everyone and help reduce any gender gaps.”
A longtime math teacher, Rizo previously worked at the Fresno County Office of Education training math instructors for multiple school districts. She soon discovered that some of her male co-workers with less experience and less education earned more than she did based on a human-resources practice that took into account prior salaries.
In 2014, she filed a wage-discrimination lawsuit under the Equal Pay Act and California’s sex-discrimination statutes. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit later ruled in favor of Rizo, determining that using prior salary alone cannot justify a wage differential between men and women under the Equal Pay Act. Fresno County later appealed the decision. This past February the U.S. Supreme Court — on a technical issue and not on the merits of an equal-pay case — vacated and remanded the Ninth Circuit’s decision and sent back to the appellate court for additional review.
Despite economic advances and civil rights laws, discrimination in the workplace persists. In 2018, women with full-time jobs earned 85 percent of what men earned, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of both part- and full-time workers. The year before, the U.S. Census Bureau calculated that women earned 80 percent of what their male counterparts were paid.
Rizo continues to advocate for pay equity and fairness. In 2018, she ran an unsuccessful campaign against an incumbent to represent California’s 23rd State Assembly District, which includes portions of the city and county of Fresno.
Students, faculty, staff, alumni and the extended CSUSB community are encouraged to attend Rizo’s talk. The event is partially supported by the Intellectual Life Fund and Clare Weber, deputy provost for academic affairs.
The Gerald M. Scherba Endowed Program Lecture Series at CSUSB offers the public a clear understanding of the natural sciences and what they contribute to the world.
The science speaker series is named after Cal State San Bernardino founding faculty member Gerald Scherba, the first science professor hired in 1962 by then-San Bernardino-Riverside State College founding president John M. Pfau. The college opened in 1965.
Scherba first served as chair for the Natural Sciences Division. In 1968, he became the first dean of academic affairs at Cal State San Bernardino. In 1984, he was named director for the California State University Field Station for Research and Education in Zyzzx, Calif. He retired in 1994 and passed away in 2001.