Equal Pay Day has rolled around again.
Not much has changed.
Today marks how far into 2012 women must work to match what their male counterparts earned last year.
The inequity has improved only a tad. In 2010, Equal Pay Day was observed on April 20.
The National Committee on Pay Equity is urging supporters of equal pay to wear something red today to symbolize how far “in the red” women are stuck in achieving pay equity.
According to the Association of University Women, Wyoming has the worst earnings ratio for women in the 50 states and the District of Columbia — 64 percent of what a man earns.
The national ratio is 77 percent.
The wage gap is most narrow in Washington, D.C., where women earn 91 cents, on average, for every dollar earned by men.
“Equal Pay Day, which this year falls on April 17, is an unfortunate reminder of how far we have to go to reach true pay equality,” AAUW Executive Director Linda D. Hallman said in a media release. “The wage gap hasn’t moved significantly in nearly a decade, and at this rate, we’ll be marking Equal Pay Day for the next 60 years.”
Richelle Keinath is executive director of the Wyoming Women’s Foundation. She said one explanation often given for the wage gap in Wyoming is high-paying mining and construction jobs for men. One study showed when that category of jobs was removed from the equation, the pay equity persisted.
“We value the work that men and women do at different levels,” Keinath said.
Her organization encourages young women to educate themselves so they can make more money.
“We do know that in Wyoming education is so much more important for women than for men,” Keinath said.
Young men out of high school can make good wages in mining and construction jobs. Young women out of high school cannot.
According to information from the a U.S. Census survey, provided by Wenlin Liu, senior economist with the state Economic Analysis Division, the median wage for a Wyoming male with a high school diploma or its equivalency is $39,455.
A young woman with the same education earns only $20,755 on average.
The wage gap in Wyoming persists even for a woman with a bachelor’s degree.
She earns $37,228 on average while her male counterpart makes $51,646.
The Wyoming Women’s Foundation also supports the CLIMB Wyoming program primarily offered for single mothers to train in such male-dominated as trucking and health care.
Supporters of equal pay also say quality child care is a key issue, which allows women to comfortably leave their children so they can go to work. They contend the state has an inadequate number of quality child care facilities, leading women to work fewer hours.
Supporters of equal pay will visit local officials to get their help in ending the wage disparity. Keinath said she will meet with city of Laramie officials.
The Wyoming Council for Women’s Issues co-hosts career fairs for teenage girls each year at one of the state’s seven community colleges, said Carma Corra of Cheyenne, the group’s chairwoman.
At the end of each program, the council presents a Wall of Women, which features 30 women from the area who have succeeded in different occupations.
Last year the career fair was held at Northwest College in Powell.
The council, Corra said, also gives awards to family friendly businesses.
The organization works with the Wyoming Women’s Foundation, but is not directly involved in the wage gap issue.
“We’re providing more information and education,” she said.
Catherine Hill, the AAUW director of research, said the gender pay gap is unlikely to go away on its own.
“Our publications and tools will empower our advocacy on behalf of women and their families,” she said.