equality

The 20th anniversary of the Shepard Symposium on Social Justice kicks off Wednesday, April 6th. The event was started by two members of the College of Education at the University of Wyoming. In 2002, it was renamed in honor of slain UW student Matthew Shepard. Since then, the symposium has grown into a network of organizations and individuals working toward equality. On this milestone, symposium organizer Michelle Jarman says it’s time for a retrospective. 

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Wyoming has consistently ranked poorly among states when it comes to equal pay, but new research reveals the state as having the third largest lifetime wage gap in the country. Because of that gap, an average Wyoming woman makes about 651,000-dollars less than a man over the course of a 40-year-career.

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Leaders of the Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus have chosen Esther Hobart Morris, America’s first female Justice of the Peace and a Wyoming resident, as their pick to be the face on the redesigned $10 bill.

Earlier this summer, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced the initiative to feature a woman on the $10 note. He invited the public to contribute their picks via social media with the hashtag #thenew10.

Melodie Edwards

For women, it’s never been easy breaking into male-dominated fields. That was the case for Susan Marsh. She’s the author of a new book called A Hunger For High Country. It’s a memoir about how her childhood love for nature led her to become a landscape architect for the U.S. Forest Service. Marsh is now retired and writing a natural history of Jackson’s Cache Creek. On a wildflower walk along the creek with Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards, she talked about her years of struggle during a time when the Forest Service hired very few women.

Wyo Women's Legislative Caucus

For years women’s groups in the state have expressed concern about the lack of women in the Wyoming legislature. But it has rarely been this bad. Currently the state ranks 46th with women making up 14 percent. 

In 2006 the Wyoming women’s legislative caucus was formed to not only support the 14 women serving in the state legislature, but to also recruit female candidates to run for office. It hasn’t gone well. Melissa Turley is the Caucus Coordinator.

Aaron Schrank/WPR

The gay rights advocacy group that has been fighting Wyoming’s gay marriage ban in state court for the past year celebrated the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state Tuesday.

Wyoming Equality’s executive director Jeran Artery stood outside the Cheyenne court house and watched two couples emerge with marriage licenses--and then tie the knot in brief official ceremonies near the court house entrance. 

Artery says this is what his group has been working for.

Melodie Edwards

Some of the best paying jobs in Wyoming are in the oil and gas industry, but only ten percent are held by women.  Energy companies are trying to attract more women to fill open positions.  But women who do want to enter the field for the higher-paying jobs face a lot of barriers. Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards reports.