Equal pay for Massachusetts women in the spotlight this week - Metro US

Equal pay for Massachusetts women in the spotlight this week

State Sen. Anne Gobi, left, and Rep. Gloria Fox were among speakers at an Equal Pa
Derek Kouyoumjian/Metro

State officials have been shining a light on pay equity for women this week – reminding Boston that it is not alone in paying female employees less than their male peers.

Women in Massachusetts, according to data compiled on a new website dedicated to the issue, make 82 cents on the dollar compared with men. For African-American women that figure is 61 cents and for Latina women it’s 50 cents, according to the website: EqualPayMA.com.

To offer a sense for how different workers in the state are impacted by the disparity, state Treasurer Deb Goldberg this week launched a tool called the “Wage Gap Calculator.”

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“Wage equality is not solely a women’s issue, it’s a family issue and affects the economic health and wellbeing of our entire state,” Treasurer Deb Goldberg said in a Tuesday statement. “When women are paid as much as men for equal work, we all benefit. Our hope is that the launch ofwww.EqualPayMA.comwill empower more people to take part in ending the gender wage gap.”

Users can plug in their age and industry, then find out how much less women in that field make than men.

A 35-year-old woman working in architecture and engineering earns an average of $34 to a man’s $42, a gap of $16,000 per year — or the equivalent of 181 months of rent over 30 years — according to the calculator.

A similar woman working in transportation would earn $13 to a man’s $17.

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“I got a sneak peak at the wage gap calculator and I was pretty horrified by what I learned,” Attorney General Maura Healey said on Tuesday, according to the State House News Service. “But it is such a neat and nifty tool and a real terrific way to raise consciousness and awareness.”

Equal Pay Day was Tuesday, April 12. The occasion marks how late in the year women need to work to earn as much as men would in a year’s time, according to the National Committee on Pay Equity.

Massachusetts ranks 18th in the nation on pay equity, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, which also estimated that the state with its current policies would not be able to close that gap until 2058.

Efforts from Mayor Marty Walsh’s administration to narrow the pay gap between men and women have included city-sponsored salary-negotiation workshops. In March, he said more than 100 companies had signed a pledge to address the issue and share data with the city.

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“By working together – government with business, individuals and legislators – I am confident we will finally pay women what they deserve and as a result we will strengthen our economy, our families, and our city,” he wrote in an op-ed in the Boston Business Journal. “It’s about time!”

State lawmakers have been considering a bill aimed at addressing the issue by forcing companies to let employees discuss salary with one another and inform workers of their rights via public postings, while also increasing fines for violations of pay equity laws. It cleared the Senate in January.

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