TERRE HAUTE — An employment wage gap between men and women in Indiana has widened over the last year, according to an analysis from the National Partnership for Women and Families.
Last year, Hoosier women were paid 76 cents for every dollar paid to a man. For 2018, that gap has increased to 74 cents per dollar.
That equates to a yearly pay difference of $12,717 in 2018, compared to $11,339 in 2017.
The difference in pay means Indiana women lose a combined total of nearly $16.2 billion every year to the gender wage gap, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families.
The study states Indiana in 2018 has the sixth-largest cents-on-the-dollar gap in the nation. The year before, Indiana had the 12th-largest gap.
Today (April 10) is Equal Pay Day, a date that symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. Equal Pay Day originated in 1996 through the National Committee on Pay Equity as an event to illustrate the wage gap between men and women.
The annual analysis from the National Partnership, a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group, uses U.S. Census Bureau data for median wages for women working full-time, year-round compared to men.
The analysis also breaks down wages in congressional districts. And the wage disparity is evident.
Marsha Miller, president of the Indiana American Association of University Women and librarian at Indiana State University, said that while the pay gap has narrowed since the 1970s, the gap “does not appear likely to go away on its own.”
However, recent examples, including Starbucks, show that companies can act to equalize pay, Miller said.
“They are small victories, but this is not unlike the parallels of women suffrage that started in 1848 and not a lot happens to most people for quite some time,” until the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1920, Miller said. “People are saying this is the way it is and it is not a gender issue and there is nothing that I or my company can do about it,” Miller said.
Yet, Miller referred to Starbucks, which on March 21, announced it had reached 100 percent pay equity for partners of all genders and races performing similar work across the United States.
“Roughly 10 years ago we began serious work to ensure women and men – of all ethnicities and races – are compensated fairly at Starbucks,” Lucy Helm, chief partner officer at Starbucks, said in a statement. “This accomplishment is the result of years of work and commitment.”
Another example is the tech company Salesforce, which last year stated it spent $3 million to study and close the wage gap between what men and women make, comparing people in similar roles and adjusting for location. As a result, the company raised the pay of 11 percent of its employees worldwide.
Miller said Indiana needs to offer employees protections from intentional and unintentional discrimination. “We need a pay discrimination hotline. We need to make sure that employers can’t provide less favorable career opportunities or tracking based on sex,” she said.
“Indiana does not have anything that deals with retaliation or discrimination against employees who discuss their wages. We don’t have anything about state contractors who need to comply with non-discrimination laws,” Miller said.
In 2012, Miller said the American Association of University Women conducted a report looking at recent college graduates, comparing the graduates after one year out of college. “The study found a 7 percent ‘mystery gap,’ in salaries [of men and women]...so within a year, that pay inequity starts,” Miller said.
“That can affect a woman’s wages up to $500,000 in her lifetime — a woman with a college degree that is working in her profession and progressing through the same steps as men,” Miller said.