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She Works Hard for the Money: Equal Pay Summit Today in Bozeman

The topic at Montana's Equal Pay Summit in Bozeman today is the pay gap, in a state where a woman makes 74 cents on the dollar compared to a man. (Imagesource/iStockphoto)
The topic at Montana's Equal Pay Summit in Bozeman today is the pay gap, in a state where a woman makes 74 cents on the dollar compared to a man. (Imagesource/iStockphoto)
May 3, 2016

BOZEMAN, Mont. - Montana's working women make on average only 74 cents on the dollar compared to men; the ninth-worst pay gap in the country.

That's the issue being addressed today at the third annual Equal Pay Summit at Montana State University in Bozeman. The event is sponsored by the Governor's Equal Pay for Equal Work Task Force.

Montana Commissioner of Labor and Industry Pam Bucy says Montana families, and the economy as a whole, suffer when women aren't paid a fair wage.

"That adds up to a whole lot that isn't being spent every two weeks out of a paycheck on Main Street, Montana," Bucy says. "Over a 35-year career, that discrepancy adds up to hundreds of thousands of dollars."

Gov. Steve Bullock will speak at the summit and the keynote speaker is Jen Welter, the first female NFL coach. The event is free and open to the public.

According to Bucy, the factors behind the stubborn pay gap include a woman's education, experience, whether or not she works full-time or takes time out of the workforce to care for a loved one, as well as her choice of occupation.

The summit will explore ways to encourage girls to study math and science in school and then pursue higher-paying careers in 'STEM' fields.

Bucy adds women will also get tips on how to negotiate for higher pay.

"We're training 120 people at this summit," she says. "In addition to that, we've trained trainers that are functioning all throughout the state in all of the Job Service offices, as well as many of our community partners."

Last year, the Montana Legislature rejected a bill that would have prevented companies from retaliating against employees who discuss their salaries with colleagues. Bucy says the bill will be reintroduced in 2017.

More information about the summit and task force is online at equalpay.mt.gov.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - MT