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Patricia Jehlen

[Photo: Eric Haynes]

Most Creative People 2017

Patricia Jehlen

Massachusetts State Senator

For leading toward equal pay

 “Persistence is extraordinarily important,” says Massachusetts state senator Patricia Jehlen. So is persuasion. In summer 2016, after a 20-year fight, the 73-year-old official helped get a groundbreaking piece of equal-pay legislation passed, unanimously, in the Massachusetts State Senate. When the bill, which Jehlen sponsored and coauthored, goes into effect in July 2018, it will prohibit employers from asking job candidates about salary history. “That has been a barrier to many women,” Jehlen explains. “Once you’ve had a lower-paying job, you are at a disadvantage in negotiations for all your next jobs.” The bill also mandates that people performing “comparable work”—regardless of their titles—should receive equal pay. After winning a seventh term in fall 2016, Jehlen is now leaning into the next part of the equal-pay fight: bringing up wages in fields dominated by women, such as nursing and child care. 

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