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April 10 2018

Mind Your Own Business: Women in Oklahoma face a 26 percent pay gap

NewsOK
featuring Carrie L. Lukas

Today is Equal Pay Day. Many female advocacy groups are calling for actions to close the national 20-cent pay gap between men and women; 26 cents in Oklahoma. The “holiday” was slated for April 10 to demonstrate that it takes women workers a little more than 15 months to meet what their male counterparts earn in a year.

The gap in gender pay inequity has closed only by 7 cents in the past 20 years, according to analysis by the Washington, D.C.-based American Association of University Women (AAUW). It exists in every state, ranging from 30 cents in Louisiana to 11 cents in New York, and is greatest among Latina and African American women, at 54 percent and 63 percent, respectively.

The loss to women is roughly $500,000 over their lifetimes and up to $1 million for women of color, per the National Organization for Women.

Meanwhile, some groups call today a “misleading false holiday,” arguing that the pay gap between the sexes is due to the choices women make about working.

Carrie Lukas, president of Independent Women’s Forum in Washington, D.C., said, “Often women seek job options that have more flexible hours, so they can be there to welcome their kids off the bus. Many women look for jobs that they find personally rewarding, even if that means accepting lower pay.”

“Some with a political agenda try to convince people–particularly women–that this statistic is evidence that America is fundamentally sexist and short-changing women,” Lukas said. “It's simply not true to suggest that these statistics are a proxy for gender discrimination. Moreover, it's unhelpful to American women,” she said, “to encourage them to think that they are inevitably going to be wronged, rather than encouraging them to be aware of how the choices they make about what fields to enter, specialties to pursue, and time they dedicate to their professions will impact their earnings potential.”

A recent survey by Chcago-based CareerBuilder, of some 800 U.S. workers and roughly 800 hiring and H.R. managers, in part, supports Lukas’ statement. Though 32 percent of women, and 12 percent of men, don’t think they’re making the same pay as their counterparts, the inequity may start with differences in expectations, analysts found.

According to the survey, 29 percent of men think they will reach a director level or higher, compared with 22 percent of women, while 25 percent of women never expect to reach above an entry-level role, compared with 9 percent of men.

Thirty-five percent of women don’t expect to reach a salary over $50,000 during their career, compared with 17 percent of men, while 47 percent of men expect to reach a six-figure salary, compared with 22 percent of women.

Notably, 42 percent of employers surveyed by CareerBuilder said proposed legislation that prohibits employers from asking job candidates for their salary history will help close the gender pay gap since salary histories cannot be discussed.

Only four states currently have such legislation, according to the AAUW, which deems Oklahoma’s equal pay laws moderate. In Oklahoma, as in 41 states, employers are prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against an individual for taking legal action to secure equal pay. But though a bill is pending to allow free-for-all discussion of pay in the workplace, Oklahoma has yet to pass legislation prohibiting employers from discriminating or retaliating against an individual for discussing or disclosing wages, as 19 states currently have. The bill is being backed by the Oklahoma Women's Coalition.

With a goal of eliminating the gender pay gap by 2030, AAUW is pushing for reforms at the national level. With better workplace gender equity practices, $12 trillion could be added to the global GDP by 2025, according to recent analysis by Kinsey.

The AAUW also announced a new commitment to train 10 million women through salary negotiations programs by 2022. The organization has launched an e-learning interactive experience to help women understand their market worth and give them the tools and confidence they need to negotiate for higher salaries.

Mind Your Own Business @ work and @ home.

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IIndependent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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