Governor Chet Culver Tuesday signed legislation that’s designed to protect against wage discrimination in the workplace. Iowa currently ranks 37th in the nation in gender pay equity – with women earning roughly 62% of what men do in the same industry.
Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge says women face enough challenges in the workplace aside the lower pay. "Along the way, I’ve met a lot of people who told me I couldn’t do something because I was a woman," Judge said.
"I was told I couldn’t be a farmer because I was a woman, I was told I couldn’t be a state senator, I was told I couldn’t be the Secretary of Agriculture and there’s still people that wonder about that."
Upon graduating from high school, Judge recalled being told she could be one of three things – a nurse, teacher or secretary. Before entering politics, Judge was a nurse. "Time and time again I saw my female friends paid less than the men they were working beside," Judge said. "Not because they were less hard working, not because they were less dedicated, but simply because they were women."
The new law also prohibits wage discrimination based on race, religion, sexual orientation or disability. There is a similar law at the federal level but advocates say state action will protect even more employees.