U.S. Census data from 2016 suggests that women in the state earn just 64 cents for every dollar earned by a man. For full-time female workers, that annual shortfall added up to about $2 billion.
This breakdown looks even worse than the data from 2014, but Wyoming Women’s Foundation Program Associate Rebekah Smith said she has a few anecdotal examples of women moving toward wage parity.
“It doesn’t seem like there’s been any specific progress, but certainly I speak to people about the issue,” Smith said. “I think on an individual basis, once they know some of the reasons for it, and are able to address the ones that are within their control, then they’ll be able to at least help themselves in some cases,” Smith said.
Smith’s organization helped publish a study on the state’s pay gap which points to some possible solutions. She said that the state can start by supporting programs that help women access higher education or higher paying jobs, and train them to negotiate their salaries.
For the last three years, Smith said Governor Matt Mead has signed proclamations recognizing Equal Pay Day.
“That is actually done in June, because research shows that the gap is so much larger in Wyoming than the national average, and the date of Equal Pay Day is based on the number of days that a woman on average needs to work to ‘catch up’ with a man’s salary for the year before,” Smith said.
In this year’s legislative session, state lawmakers initiated a study of the wage disparity between men and women. Smith said the study will provide an opportunity to better understand unequal pay in Wyoming.