March 5, 2018 In The News

Norcross, Tammy Murphy discuss women, workplace issues

CAMDEN – New Jersey’s first lady, Tammy Murphy, came to Camden on Monday to address a forum on women’s issues in the workplace and lend her support to undocumented immigrants who, for now at least, are still protected by DACA.

Before the forum, a group of Rutgers-Camden student-activists held a rally attended by about two dozen people in support of Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals and undocumented immigrants. U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross, school Chancellor Phoebe Haddon and Camden Mayor Francisco “Frank” Moran also voiced their support.

Murphy, wife of Gov. Phil Murphy and a longtime employee of Goldman Sachs, has already waded into the political arena in her own right, telling marchers in January that she was the victim of sexual assault while in college.

She told the USA TODAY NETWORK last month that she and her husband “have always been a team, and everything we do, we do it together.” If Monday was any indication, she will help push his progressive agenda.

Norcross, a Democrat from Camden, moderated the forum at Rutgers, which also included Haddon and Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera.

During the event, which was streamed live on Norcross’ Facebook page, the congressman asked the three women about issues ranging from childcare and balancing work and family obligations to the challenges they’d faced in their respective careers. All three women discussed the gender gap in pay, with Haddon noting that New Jersey women employed full-time earn an average of 82 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn — a gap that becomes a chasm for black women, who earn just 63 cents for every dollar earned by a man, and Latina women, who only make 54 cents for every dollar.

Gov. Murphy has supported a higher minimum wage, paid sick leave and pay equity for women.

“This peace of mind is the least we owe our state’s women,” Tammy Murphy told the forum. She recalled her time with Goldman Sachs and being the only female professional in its London office; the other women there were support staff.

Haddon became Rutgers–Camden’s first female chancellor in 2014, a milestone Norcross noted was both impressive and also “a little sad that it took this long.” Despite a law degree and a background in higher education, Haddon recalled being rebuffed for high-ranking jobs elsewhere before coming to Camden.

“That’s what you call ‘the ceiling,'” she said, a reference to the glass ceiling many women say keeps them from advancing to the upper echelons of their professions.

Haddon also talked about combating “implicit biases” as both an educator and an administrator, and giving people not only the opportunity to advance, but also to go outside realms once perceived to be gender- or race-specific. Women and minorities still hold the bulk of the service jobs and low-paid positions at many institutions, she said, including her own.

A questioner who said she is a retired teacher asked the panel to address concerns about education, particularly school funding; gaps between white students and their minority counterparts; and PARCC tests, which gauge schools’ performance.

Murphy said her husband does not support PARCC tests and has said he hopes to make community college in New Jersey free for students. She also pointed to her husband’s first executive order as governor, which prohibited state agencies and offices from asking job applicants about their current salaries — one means companies used to hire women at lower pay scales.

Cathie McGeehan saw an online invitation to the event; she is a member of South Jersey Women for Progressive Change, an activist group. The Haddonfield resident, a registered nurse, recalled working in a Philadelphia hospital and discovering that a male subordinate made more money than she did.

“This goes way back for me,” McGeehan said. She said Norcross “showed he was paying attention” to women’s concerns, and was surprised he brought up childcare, an issue that is often primarily a concern for women. 

McGeehan and her husband, a physician, were in a financial position that allowed her to stay home while raising their two daughters, she said, but she realized few women today have that option.

The issues raised were good ones, she said, though she lamented they still needed to be addressed. Asked if there was anything she didn’t like about the forum, she answered, “I don’t like that we’re still here, and it’s 2018.”

Read the full story at the Courier Post, here.