Advocates for better pay for women released a study showing some improvement in the gap between what women are paid compared to men in Iowa. Iowa Workforce Development reports that Iowa women earned 78 cents for every dollar earned by men, compared to 72 cents on the dollar in 1999.
Rachel Scott with the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women says the numbers reflect the continued predominance of women in lower-paid professions. Civil rights experts tell her women are largely not being underpaid for identical work. "They have seen fewer and fewer of these as time goes by," Scott says.
The report shows how Iowa compares to other states. Scott says Iowa is in the middle third of states for pay equity, the top third for educational attainment, but in the bottom third for the number of women in higher level management and professional occupations. Scott says the shortfall reflects the continued predominance of women in lower-paid professions, while there is very little incidence of women being paid less for identical work. She says the disparity persists in spite of more women in Iowa holding college degrees than men.
Elizabeth Buck with Iowa Workforce Development said the technical fields are doing a better job of bridging the gap. Buck says growing occupations such as engineering, information technology and mathematical science have bridged the gap for pay between men and women.
The report released today coincides with National Equal Pay Day — the day when women’s wages catch up to men’s wages from the previous week. In other words, because women earn less, on average, they must work nearly seven days to earn what the average man would earn in five.