CHEYENNE - The Wyoming Council for Women’s Issues (WCWI) will focus efforts on ways of reducing Wyoming’s wage gap during Equal Pay Day on April 25.
Equal Pay Day is a national observance that recognizes the wage gap between working women and men. Women are paid on average 76 cents for every dollar their male counterparts are paid according to statistics released in 2004 by the United States Census Bureau. In Wyoming, the average pay is even less, with women earning 70 cents for every dollar their male counterparts make. In 2004, women comprised approximately 45.9 percent of Wyoming’s workforce with 139,266 workers.
"Pay equity is receiving a growing amount of attention nationally and it has received a significant amount of attention here in Wyoming," said Teresa de Groh, chair of the Wyoming Council for Women’s Issues. "The gap here is one of the largest, if not the largest, in the nation."
The Council suggests the following as constructive ways that Wyoming can begin to close its gender wage gap:
* First, affirmative action programs should be kept in place to make sure education, jobs, and promotion opportunities are open and offered to qualified women.
* Second, employers should examine and correct their pay practices. Employers can get help in examining their pay practices through equal pay self-audit guidelines from the U.S. Department of Labor.
* Third, Wyoming women must be vocal in taking a stronger stand for statewide equal pay practices. Prospective employers should be able to show that women and men are being paid equally for jobs. Positive signs include a hiring process that seeks diversity through affirmative action, written pay and benefit policies, job descriptions and evaluation procedures.
"Women and families are being impacted every day through the loss of thousands of dollars a year, as shown in a wage disparity study conducted by the University of Wyoming," said de Groh. "This study estimates the wage gap costs exceed benefits to the Wyoming economy by $65 million annually. The Council’s own issues survey results show that low wages are currently one of the top issues for Wyoming women."
The wage disparity study also outlined other statewide effects that wage disparity causes, including: the need for women to hold multiple jobs; higher childcare costs; lost income for families; higher job turnover; and increased human capital out-migration.
The WCWI encourages women who are paid less than men to discuss the problem with their employer. If discrimination exists, finding a job with a different company that has better employment practices could be a realistic solution. Women can also file a complaint with the Wyoming Department of Employment Labor Standards Division or with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
To download the wage disparity study or women’s issues survey, visit the WCWI web site at