Women In Mass. Earn 83 Cents For Every Dollar Men Earn

In this Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, file photo, women fill out job applications at a JobNewsUSA job fair in Miami Lakes, Fla. (Lynne Sladky/AP)
In this Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, file photo, women fill out job applications at a JobNewsUSA job fair in Miami Lakes, Fla. (Lynne Sladky/AP)

The wage gap between men and women persisted in Massachusetts last year.

Women in the state earn about 83 cents for every dollar men earn, according to census data compiled Thursday by the American Association of University Women (AAUW). The median earnings for women working full-time year round in Massachusetts was $54,646, compared to $65,939 for men in the state.

That's slightly better than the national wage gap, according to a related but separate census survey, released Wednesday, which shows women in the U.S. earn 80 cents for every dollar men earn. That's unchanged from the previous year's survey.

The Massachusetts wage gap decreased by just 1 cent compared to the bureau's 2016 survey, which had women at 82 cents for every dollar men make in the state.

But closing the wage gap at this rate is not enough, according to Kim Churches, the CEO of the AAUW.

"The reality is the pay gap has not budged enough in the last two decades," Churches said. "We're looking at only about a nickel improvement nationwide."

Massachusetts has the 13th-narrowest wage gap among all states and the District of Columbia, according to the analysis by the AAUW. California ranks first with an 11-cent pay gap, while Louisiana ranks last with a 31-cent pay gap, according to the AAUW's analysis.

Local efforts are underway to close the gender wage gap. The city of Boston has been working with the AAUW since 2015 to offer free salary negotiation workshops to women. So far, 7,500 women have been trained, according to the mayor's office. A city-issued report last September found the training had helped women ask for more money. The workshops also expanded statewide earlier this year.

Additionally, the city of Boston has been meeting with companies to address workplace practices that may contribute to pay inequity.

And the state's new pay equity law also went into effect in July. The sweeping law prevents employers from asking prospective employees how much they made at previous jobs — an effort to keep workers from being stuck in a cycle of relatively low salaries. The law also protects employees from retribution if they discuss salaries openly.

It's too early to say if the state law has had any impact on the gender wage gap. Churches believes it will take a combination of strong pay equity laws, improved employer practices and training women to negotiate to "really start to close the gap more quickly than we've seen over the last two decades."

"We really need to ensure that we're taking a multi-pronged approach here and looking at it through every single level so we can get rid of the barriers and biases against women in the workplace," Churches said.

It's worth noting that the wage gap for women of color continues to be much worse. Nationally, Latina women earn just 53 cents on the dollar compared to white men, while black women earn 61 cents on the dollar, according to the AAUW.

Earlier Coverage:

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Zeninjor Enwemeka Senior Business Reporter
Zeninjor Enwemeka is a senior business reporter who covers business, tech and culture as part of WBUR's Bostonomix team, which focuses on the innovation economy.



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