Gender wage gap

Wyoming Legislature

March 8 is International Women’s Day. All over the country women skipped work and participated in marches and rallies to spotlight women’s economic contributions as a part of an action called "A Day Without a Woman."

Wyoming Art Party

All across the country Wednesday, women, including some in Wyoming, went on strike in order to demonstrate their economic power as part of  “A Day Without Women.” The event coincided with International Women’s Day.

Laramie resident Heather Rockwell said she decided to take the day off from her job after she participated in the Women’s March in Cheyenne in January. She said she has never gone on strike before.

“I’m also an hourly worker,” said Rockwell. “So it’s sort of one those situations of if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. And I was willing to accept that.”

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A bill to study wage and benefit disparities between men and women in Wyoming unanimously passed the Senate’s Labor, Health, and Social Services Committee on Wednesday.

In April 2016, The National Women’s Law Center released a study that ranked Wyoming as having the third largest lifetime wage gap in the country. The study said because of that gap, an average Wyoming woman makes about $651,000 less than a man over the course of a 40 year career. 

Wyoming Legislature

State Representatives Marti Halverson and Cathy Connolly are unlikely allies. Halverson has been a supporter of religious rights bills in the past, while Connolly is the state’s only openly gay lawmaker. But there’s one thing they do agree on: the need for an in-depth study Wyoming’s gender wage gap which reports say is the worst in the nation.

Institute for Women’s Policy Research

If trends continue, Wyoming will close its gender wage gap last out of all 50 states – in the year 2159. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research predicted that date by looking at salary rates in the state from 1969 to 2013.

Julie Anderson is a Research Associate at the institute, and she joined Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard to discuss why Wyoming is such an outlier when it comes to the wage gap.

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If trends continue, Wyoming will close its gender wage gap last out of all 50 states – in the year 2159. That’s based on historical wage data from between 1959 and 2013 analyzed by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

Julie Anderson, a research associate at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, said, unlike much of the country where wage growth has been relatively stagnant, men’s salaries in Wyoming have been on the rise.

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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.

Women in the United States have been fighting for equal wage rights since the early 1900s.  In 1963 the government passed the Equal Pay Act, which aimed to abolish wage disparity based on sex.  But the act excluded professional careers.  Starting in 1971, Marilynn Deiss juggled work as the Executive Director of the Wyoming Board of Pharmacy and as a single mother.  She tells her daughter, Debra Swedberg, how gender discrimination affected her life.

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.

Wyoming continues to have the worst gender pay gap in the country, and the gulf is widening. According to a new report released by the National Partnership for Women and Families. Wyoming women made only 64 cents for every dollar that men in the state made. That amounts to an annual wage gap of over $18,000 dollars.

The gender wage gap in Wyoming is the largest in the nation. And that’s not news, either…it’s been this way for years. Groups around the state are working to fix it through policy, training programs, and education, but Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports that it could be the state’s industries that keep the gap firmly in place.