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Big Sky Connection
April 10, 2018
HELENA, Montana - It takes women more than 15 months to earn what men earn in 12 - but pay inequality is not the only discrepancy Montana women face in the workplace.
Today is Equal Pay Day, symbolizing how far into 2018 a woman would need to work order to make the same amount a man did in 2017. Data from the U.S. Census show the 2018 wage gap between women and men is about 20 percent.
President of the National Organization for Women, Toni Van Pelt, explained that pay inequality impacts women through their entire careers - affecting vacation time, retirement savings and other aspects of life.
"Equally as important is that if women are kept in a state of constant economic insecurity, they are more liable to feel that they must put up with sexual harassment and sexual assault, in the workplace and in their education," Van Pelt said.
According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, women in Montana who work full-time have median annual earnings of about $33,000, the third-lowest in the country. Treasure State women make about 70 percent of what men in the state make, which is also the third-highest gap in the nation.
Van Pelt noted the pay gap is worse for women of color, with black women earning just 63 percent of what their white male counterparts are paid, and Latino women just 60 percent. She added she is troubled by how slowly the gap is narrowing.
"When we first started talking about this, the average, full-time working woman was earning 59 cents, on average. So, in 55 years, it's only closed by 18 cents," she said. "That's a rate of less than half a penny a year."
The Institute for Women's Policy Research gives Montana an overall grade of "D" when it comes to employment and equality.