Wage gap in Washington shows women, minorities continue to get short shrift

Mar 26, 2024, 9:41 AM | Updated: 9:58 am

Equal pay...

Kathleen Van Schalkwyk (L) joins with other protesters to ask that woman be given the chance to have equal pay as their male co-workers. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The fight for equal pay in Washington is far from over, with women and minorities still on the short end of the wage gap.

The nonprofit National Partnership for Women and Families came out with a new study that shows the state is one of the worst in the country for pay equity.

Median pay for women in Washington was $18,400 less than what men earned. That’s only second to Utah, where the gap was $20,649.

“It’s really shocking how bad it is here,” Grace Yoo, the Washington State Women’s Commission executive director, told the Washington State Standard.

Her theory was that women tend to be underrepresented in the state’s highest-paying jobs. Yoo said the tech, aerospace and construction trades need more women to bring their pay more in line with men.

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She explained that women are far more plentiful in jobs at the lower end of the pay scale, such as education and the care sector.

Other northwest states experience the same issue. In Idaho, women earn $14,905 less than men. In Oregon, that number is $12,245.

The gap grows larger when race and ethnicity are added to the mix. Black women typically earned $28,405 less than white men, while Latina women were paid $35,402 less.

“We’re at a point where the gender wage gap in our state has only gotten worse over the years,” Yoo explained. “What we’re doing now has to change. We’ve got to try something new.”

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The Women’s Commission’s fresh idea is to create a campaign called Activate 3.8, a reference to the roughly 3.8 million women and girls across the state. The campaign includes educating girls to have access to career opportunities in areas like tech and science when they’re in middle school, ensuring adequate child care is available for families during prime earning years, and getting more women into the corporate executive ranks.

“We have to account for the full career cycle of women,” Yoo said.

The group wants to bring together government, business, labor and academia to work on reversing occupational segregation and gender pay disparities in Washington.

Bill Kaczaraba is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read his stories here. Follow Bill on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email him here

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Wage gap in Washington shows women, minorities continue to get short shrift