Montanan Women Can't Afford to Make Do With Less

Feb 03, 2015

I recommend listening to Dolly sing 9 to 5 as you read for maximum blog enjoyment. Did you know that women working in Montana are still only making 67 cents to every dollar earned by men. At the end of the year, this adds up to a $10,000 difference in wages between the two. Some of this wage gap can be attributed to several factors. Montana women are more likely to work in part-time jobs than men. Women are also in the labor force less because they are more likely to be the ones taking time off to care for their families. Additionally, because of a limited number of businesses that offer paid leave programs in Montana, women lose out on wages when they need to take time off. However, even when we consider women who work full-time in Montana, the wage gap still persists. On average, a full-time working woman makes only 75 cents to every dollar earned by a full-time working man. It’s is not an issue of where women work, the sector they work in, or their education levels. Women make less than men in every industry and every sector in Montana. In public agencies and local government, women make 84 cents to every dollar a man earns. That number is even wider in the private sector where women earn only 69 cents to every dollar their male counterpart makes. The wage gap even exists among women and men with high school diplomas, Bachelor’s degrees, and Ph.Ds. These statistics are not meant to bring Montanan women’s spirits down. Wage disparity is a nationwide problem and these numbers are presented to educate men, women, business leaders, and employers that while Montana ranks 37th in the nation in terms of pay equity, we can change this. Currently, there are efforts underway to move the needle in the right direction. Montana legislators are taking necessary steps to bring wage parity to the state. This past Friday, The Paycheck Fairness Act (Senate Bill 158) had a hearing in the Senate Business and Labor Committee. It would enable employees to discuss their own wages and benefits openly with one another without the fear that their employer will discriminate or take disciplinary actions against them. Really though, the bill is addressing the existing wage inequities between Montanan men and women. By enabling transparency, the bill would allow individuals to detect wage discrimination in their workplace without the fear of being reprimanded or fired by their employer. Knowledge is power and this is the first right step in battling wage discrimination in Montana and bringing parity between men and women in the workplace. Learn more here: Montana Equal Pay Task Force
Montana Budget & Policy Center

Shaping policy for a stronger Montana.

MBPC is a nonprofit organization focused on providing credible and timely research and analysis on budget, tax, and economic issues that impact low- and moderate-income Montana families.