Governor and advocates want gender wage gap addressed

Gov. Matt Mead and local women’s advocates called for more to be done to address the gender wage gap in the Equality State during a proclamation ceremony in Cheyenne this week. “It’s not just a women’s issue, it’s a men’s issue; it’s a family issue,” Mead said. His comments followed presentations by Carma Corra, chairwoman of the Wyoming Council for Women’s Issues, and Rebekah Smith, program associate for the Wyoming Women’s Foundation. Smith pointed to data showing the state has the 49th largest gender wage gap in the nation. A new report being released by the Laramie-based Women’s Foundation states one in five Wyoming residents are living below nationally-recognized self-sufficiency standards, including 58 percent of single mothers. Smith thanked the governor for his support of the standards and hailed the report as a way to ensure state agencies, legislators and the public are working with the same information. “The main takeaway is: living expenses have risen drastically in the last decade, and wages haven’t kept pace,” Smith said. There are mitigating circumstances to Wyoming’s vast pay inequality, Smith acknowledged. The state’s economy is dominated by the energy industry. Jobs in the field have historically been filled by men. Mead agreed, but cautioned against using the explanation as a crutch. “It is true, but you can set that aside, and you still have a wage gap,” Mead said. [image: MeadSigning.jpg] The governor went on to tie the wage issue to other demographic struggles for Wyoming. One of the challenges for the state, he explained, includes enticing young people to remain here. A wage that allows them to be self-sufficient is one factor that would convince the next generation of bright, talented workers to choose Wyoming as their home. Policies that support health, education and retail workers is an important consideration, Smith added, because women are highly represented in those industries. The governor’s proclamation recognizes Equal Pay Day in Wyoming. The date symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. Equal Pay Day was recognized nationally April 12. #bootstrapped #shortgo #news