What is the cause of this significant wage gap?
On one side of the argument, many are saying this disparity is due to the energy-centric nature of Wyoming’s economy. Other factors such as education and firm size are considered in this as well, but others strongly disagree. The other side generally believes women are simply paid less. Even in fields like engineering, women are paid 89 cents for every dollar men in the same position are paid.
Leaders in the state are not taking the news of this gap lightly.
Cathy Connolly, a Democrat member of the Wyoming House of Representatives, has proposed multiple bills to potentially end wage discrimination within the state. Once passed, they would improve wage transparency within the workplace and call for penalties for those who pay their employees less based on their gender.
Additionally, the legislation would address wages themselves. Once passed, one of the bills would stop employers from disallowing employees to discuss their pay amongst themselves.
“I urge the committee to pass this bill, and we’ll do the work to make sure that we have every major industrial sector behind it when we get it to the floor,” Connolly stated.
However, there was opposition to Connolly’s proposed bills. Representative Pat Sweeney has voiced concerns that disclosing information about pay would cause “unrest” among employees. To this, Connolly responded that the bill was meant to ensure that employees would not get fired for discussing their wages with each other, and to give women employees leverage in asking for raises.
Senator Anthony Bouchard also opposed Connolly’s legislation, urging everyone to vote against it out of fear that a single passed regulation would lead to many more. Since Wyoming is known for its lack of workplace regulations, Bouchard was hesitant to see any slight change.
Despite these oppositions, Connolly’s bill passed.
Another bill would regulate pay for public employees and would require pay rate adjustments to ensure pay equality between men and women employees. Additionally, it would call on the state’s economic development efforts to: “encourage new and existing businesses to employ best practices to reduce the wage gap between men and women in the state.”
“There’s a lot of good news in here, and maybe a little work that needs to be done. A big takeaway for me is, for the most part, women are doing what they want, they’re working where they want, they’re making what they want, they’re working as long as they want. There are exceptions to the rule, but that was my takeaway from the report,” said Representative Marti Halverson.
Cathy Connolly’s dedication to closing the wage gap has paid off in the state of Wyoming so far. Through her proposed legislations, Connolly has proven that nothing will stop her from making the workplace equal for both men and women.
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