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Wyoming Women May Not See Equal Pay Until Next Century

At the current rate of progress, women in Wyoming will not earn as much as men until the year 2159. (Pixabay)
At the current rate of progress, women in Wyoming will not earn as much as men until the year 2159. (Pixabay)
June 20, 2016

CHEYENNE, Wy. - It's been 53 years since President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law, and women are still paid on average 79 cents for every $1 a man makes.

Julie Anderson, research associate with the Institute for Women's Policy Research, says if current trends continue, women in some states will have to wait longer than others to earn as much as men.

"Based on the rate of progress since about 1960, the wage gap will close in 2059," says Anderson. "When we looked at every state in the nation, Wyoming would be the last state to close the wage gap in 2159 - so, another century."

Anderson says the primary reason cited for the pay gap is more women work in jobs that have historically paid less. But she says research shows even when occupations require similar skills and education levels, such as I-T, manufacturing and transportation, women are still pooled into lower-paying jobs than men.

Anderson notes a typical working woman in the U.S. loses more than $500,000 over her lifetime due to the gender wage gap, and a full-time worker with a college education loses almost 800,000 by the time she turns 59.

Anderson says increased awareness about jobs that pay more can help, but it's also important to stop discriminatory practices.

"Jennifer Lawrence finds out that she's got far more awards than her costars and is being paid less," says Anderson. "Not all of us are Hollywood stars and in some settings, I think it's very discouraged to talk about pay, even though legally, you are allowed to discuss it."

Anderson says in union, government and military jobs, where wages and promotion policies are more transparent, wage gaps are much smaller. She adds increasing access to paid family leave and affordable child care could also help shorten the time women have to wait before seeing equal pay.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY