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Study shows Wisconsin’s wage gap between men, women hasn’t changed in a decade

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Posted at 11:36 AM, Mar 11, 2024

MILWAUKEE — A new study shows Wisconsin has a lot of work to do to close the wage gap between women and men.

Data released this month from the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics suggests the wage gap largely hasn’t changed in the last decade.

"Absolutely, I can say that I've experienced it,” said Lauren Feaster.

Lauren Feaster
Lauren Feaster is the CEO of Professional Dimensions, one of the partner organizations for Friday's event at the Marcus Center.

It’s a frustrating issue Feaster of Milwaukee knows firsthand.

"Whether I can call it by number or by compensation there's always been that gap and it remains,” she said.

The fight for fair pay is still a struggle for far too many women.

The newly released study found Wisconsin women make an average of 80.4 percent of what men make. The figure is nearly identical to where state data stood in 2012.

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Meanwhile, the study suggests Wisconsin trails the nation as a whole in the push to close the wage gap. Across the country, women make an average of 83 cents for every dollar men make.

"Progress is slow to come, but it doesn't mean that it's not coming,” said Emilie Aries.

Emilie Aries
Emilie Aries, author and podcast host, gave the keynote address on pay equity at Friday's event.

Aries is an author and a wage equality advocate who made the trip to Milwaukee to educate a theatre full of women and men on the scope of this problem.

"Really, the average doesn't tell the full story,” she said. “Women of color are making significantly less than 80 cents on the man's dollar and mothers are making significantly less too."

She says there are several things people can do to be a part of the push for change.

"It's unfortunate because the taboo of talking about your salary with your colleagues is still so prominent that most women including myself probably don't know if we're experiencing the gender wage gap,” she said.

Aries encourages employees to share how much they make with their coworkers. She suggests employers post jobs with salary or wage ranges. She also urges lawmakers to pass pay transparency laws just like ten states have already done and more than a dozen others are still considering.

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"In fact, there is a piece of legislation in the statehouse right here in Wisconsin right now that's sitting in committee waiting for a hearing that is unlikely to happen,” she said. “For Wisconsin to take that initiative too and become a state that values and champions pay transparency.”

Aries thinks those three steps would remove barriers many people face simply from having no clue how much their colleagues make.