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Gender Wage Gap Persists In Missouri

dleafy | sxc.hu

While the gender wage gap has narrowed over the last 50 years, the improvement has not been significant, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

In Missouri, the median earnings for a woman working full-time is $32,000 while the median earnings for a man working full-time is $43,000, said lawyer Donna Harper, a partner at Sedey Harper P.C., which specializes in employment law.

“Women make about three-fourths of what men make when they’re both employed full time, at least in Missouri,” Harper told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Wednesday.

A national Institute for Women’s Policy Research report supports those numbers, and found that in 2013 “female full-time workers made only 78 cents for every dollar earned by men.” The report also found that “Hispanic workers have lower median weekly earnings than white, black and Asian workers.”

Proportionally, fewer Hispanic and black women have college degrees, said Sally Ebest, an English professor and director of the Gender Studies Program at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

Women also are less likely to aggressively seeking pay increases than men.

“Partly because they fear some kind of backlash at work,” Harper said. “And partly because they think they’re being treated fairly — they hope they’re being treated fairly — and often they don’t know how they’re being treated with respect to pay decisions.”

Misconceptions about who is unemployed also may contribute to disparities.

“Employers tend to think that there’s this mass influx of qualified candidates in the market waiting for a job and waiting for them, and they can be flexible in the salary or they can be aggressive in lowering their salaries or their overhead costs for labor,” said. Lydia Padilla, who owns TRC Staffing Services in St. Louis. “But that’s not truly the case. Qualified, stand-out candidates are really hard to find. It’s competitive to get them right now.”

Women who believe they have been discriminated against should contact a lawyer, Harper said.

“If you think you’re being paid less, keep your thoughts to yourself,” she said. “Stay off of social media. Don’t complain about it electronically. Gather your information and then go see a lawyer.”

Related Event

Pay equity symposium: “Pay Equity — Realities, Challenges and Opportunities”

  • Donna Harper of Sedey Harper P.C. will deliver the keynote address. Sally Ebest, an English professor and director of the gender studies program at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, will moderate a discussion with Lydia Padilla, owner of TRC Staffing Services in St. Louis; Ann Plunkett, principal at WorkPlace Partners Inc.; and Anne E. Winkler, an UMSL economics professor.
  • When: 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Oct. 31, 2014
  • Where: Summit Lounge at the J.C. Penney Conference Center at the University of Missouri–St. Louis
  • Cost: $25
  • More information: 314-516-4749 or hornem@umsl.edu

"St. Louis on the Air" discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.

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