Addressing Michigan’s Gender Wage Gap

Friday, May 5, 2017

It is downright shameful that in 2017, a woman in the United States is still earning less money than her male counterpart for doing the same work. There is simply no reason for us to continue sending women the message that, despite their overwhelming contributions to our country’s and our state’s workforce, we still place a higher value on the same work when provided by a man.

According to wage data released this year by the National Partnership for Women and Families, wage discrimination disproportionately impacts women in Michigan. A typical white, non-Hispanic woman in Michigan earns 74 cents for every dollar earned by a man in Michigan when both have a similar education and experience level. This wage gap is even greater for African-American women, who earn 64 cents, and Hispanic women, who earn 57 cents for every dollar earned by a man.

This current wage gap in Michigan adds up to an annual earning deficit of about $13,000 for full-time working women. Many women in Michigan are the primary or co-breadwinners in their family. By continuing to pay them less for doing the same work as their male counterparts, not only are we hurting the women in our workforce, but we are in turn limiting the amount of financial support and resources she can provide for her family. That money could make up for the costs of about 5,500 gallons of gasoline or more than a year’s worth of groceries. That money could be used to help a woman save for post-secondary education for her children or to save for her own retirement.

And while these figures truly are outrageous to consider, researchers predict that the world will not close this economic gender gap for another 169 years.

This is absolutely unacceptable.

That is why I am proud to have co-sponsored a 12-bill package introduced by my colleagues last month that works to address this pay disparity between men and women in our state. House Bills 4509-4521 will, among other things, create new user-friendly tools to report pay disparity in the workplace, allow remedies for wage discrimination under the Elliott-Larson Civil Rights Act, require employers to disclose wage information for similarly situated employees upon request, and expand the prohibition of wage discrimination by amending the Workforce Opportunity Wage Act.

As a state representative, I am proud to represent all of my constituents, and give them a voice in their state Capitol. That includes standing up for the rights of working women throughout Michigan, and fighting for their right to equal pay for equal work. And although this fight is far from over, I am committed to doing all I can to close the gender wage gap in our great state that has persisted for far too long. The women in our state simply deserve better.