Discussing gender wage gaps

The Indiana Institute for Working Families recently published a study.

Posted: Dec. 20, 2017 11:33 PM
Updated: Dec. 20, 2017 11:47 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Marsha Miller spends a lot of her time at the library at Indiana State University, where she works as a librarian.

"I believe I'm getting paid fairly and equally," she said.

However, as president of the Indiana American Association of University Women, she knows there's others who aren't.

"We know the figures, we got lots of people pointing to solutions, so somebody please do something," she said. 

The Indiana Institute for Working Families recently published a study

The study says women in Indiana are earning less, owning less and experiencing more poverty than men. Researchers went on to give Indiana the 6th highest gender wage gap in the country, 26 percent. That's after they say last year's median earnings for a full-time working man in Indiana was $12,717 higher than a woman's.

The study also dives deeper into gender wage gaps by county, ethnicity, economic backgrounds and other factors, as well as thoughts looking ahead to the future. 

The findings are concerning, but not anything to new to Miller, especially when you factor in economic pressures like student debt.

"Women coming out are suffering more from student debt in higher education," she said, "So they need to work harder with whatever skills, whatever information they have, to ask for that equitable or at least a reasonable salary."

The conversation of salary, Miller says, involves asking the right questions.

"If women are accepting positions, and not even thinking about salary equity, that could start to be a factor," she said, "It's been proven in the research that women tend not to negotiate their salaries and men tend to negotiate."

One of the resources AAUW offers is training on how to negotiate a salary. It's through a workshop called "Start Smart".

"For women, they've just got to be aware that the possibility exists," Miller said, "and they need to during interviews, when they're looking at companies, they need to ask those questions about starting salaries, and try and find out if possible if there have been salary inequities in the past."

While it's not a job to be done overnight, Miller is hopeful with continuing conversation it will spark change into the future.

"It's uncomfortable to talk about it as a family, talk about it as an employer," she said, "but again, if we're not talking about it, then we'll just wait for the next report, and the next report, and the next report and Indiana will hang out in the bottom."

According to the AAUW and other factors, pay equity would naturally occur in the year 2059 or 2152.

"You're great, great, great granddaughters might have fair pay by then," Miller added.

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