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UHV alumna, equal pay advocate, attends White House celebration

June 29, 2013 at 1:29 a.m.

University of Houston-Victoria alumna Laquitta Martell-DeMerchant, right, stands in front of a portrait of former President Jimmy Carter in the East Wing of the White House with her husband, Ken DeMerchant, and son, Mikey Martell. They recently visited the White House as part of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Equal Pay Act.

A University of Houston-Victoria alumna recently was invited to the White House as a guest for the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Equal Pay Act by former President John F. Kennedy.

Sugar Land resident Laquitta Martell-DeMerchant was asked to attend because of her advocacy in equal pay for women. She created an app designed as a tool for women to educate themselves about the average salaries of various jobs.

She earned her Master of Business Administration in 1999 from UHV. Since then, Martell-DeMerchant has worked in the information technology industry, and she is a facility security officer and service account manager for NetIQ in Houston.

"Equal pay is a topic that is near and dear to me on a personal and professional level," she said. "I've always been an advocate for equal pay and thought that this was my chance to do something about it."

Her free app, Aequitas, allows people to search for average salaries of various jobs both nationally and locally. The data in her app is from the U.S. Department of Labor and recently was released to the public because of the Open Data Executive Order President Barack Obama signed into law in 2009.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 was signed to abolish wage disparity based on sex. Fifty years later, the wage gap has grown considerably smaller, but women often still make less than their male counterparts, Martell-DeMerchant said.

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