November 5, 2012

Gender Pay Disparity

Terry Hernandez, Executive Director of Chrysalis, just completed a television interview with WHO TV13 regarding the continued gender pay disparity.  When she asked the reporter what prompted interest in this issue, she noted the report in today's DES MOINES REGISTER listing salaries of state employees.

Once again, we need to count down to the 21st name on this list to find the first female: women's head basketball coach Lisa Bluder.  This is distressing enough, but our frustration should be compounded by the fact that her annual salary is less than half the salary of the lowest paid men's head basketball coach - and in this case, former men's basketball coach Todd Lickliter.

In the recently- released report SHE MATTERS, it was reported that in Iowa, women still make only 79% of what a man with equal education and experience is paid.  Calculating what this inequity means in today's dollars, if a woman (average salary $34,534) were to use the dollars represented by the gap (average salary for a man is $43,872), she could buy one of the following:

- 2,312 more gallons of gasoline
- 82 more weeks worth of groceries
- 14 more months of rent payments
- 8 more months of mortgage and utility payments
- 29 more months of family health insurance premiums

Today Chrysalis presented this information - in addition to the other disparities of note - to a group of women in higher education across the state, then at a workshop on teen pregnancy prevention.  We agree that, even though the Equal Pay Act was signed nearly 50 years ago, we are still far from being paid equally when our experience and education are the same.

Our work continues to be both to educate our community and stakeholders about issues like this, and to provide solutions to such problems.  Even more important, then, is our work teaching girls to advocate for themselves and be bold in asking for what they need, our work helping women become employed in "nontraditional" jobs that may pay higher wages, and our work in the corporate community to help leaders understand the reality and create workplaces that are more female- and family-friendly.

Simple things like flexible work schedules, onsite services such as ATMs or child care, and family medical leave will help keep women in the workplace as a skilled talent pool.  And these are the types of workplace benefits new young professionals should request as they seek careers.