A new survey on the gender wage gap finds Iowa is right at the national average of women earning 77-cents for every dollar earned by men. That ranks Iowa 31st among the 50 states. Kate Gallagher Robbins, senior policy analyst with the National Women’s Law Center, says the gap is much wider for minority women in Iowa.
Gallagher Robbins says, “When we look at the gap for race and ethnicity, we compare women of color to white non-Hispanic men and for those groups, in Iowa, black women are making about 60% of what white men are earning, while Hispanic women are making about 56%, so it’s fairly striking economic disparities there.”
This June will mark 50 years since President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law, yet Gallagher Robbins says little progress has been made in narrowing the wage gap. She says some businesses have restrictive policies that make it easy to keep salary data under wraps.
“Basically, if you tried to discuss your salary with anyone, you could be punished, and in fact, that’s true in many states across the country,” Gallagher Robbins says. “You can be punished for discussing your salary. That business practice is not illegal and it makes it very difficult for women to know that they even are being underpaid.”
Last week, April 9th, marked Equal Pay Day. That’s the day in 2013 that women have to work through in order to make what men made in all of 2012.
“If women are earning nationally 23% less than what men are earning, they have quite a ways to go into the following year to try and make up that amount of money,” Gallagher Robbins says. “What that translates to in actual earnings is about $11,000 nationally.”
While women in Iowa and nationwide make 77-cents to every dollar made by men, the worst state on the list was Wyoming, where the rate was 66-cents. The list was topped by Washington, D.C. where women make 90-cents to every man’s dollar.