AJC file photo

Income inequality greater among minority women

The gender wage gap in Georgia isn’t as wide as in much of the nation, yet women in the state still earn 18 percent less than men.

Data shows Georgia ranks 17th in the gender pay gap, slightly above the median wage gap of 20 percent.

The pay inequality nationwide is especially worse among minority groups, with Latina, African-American and Native American women, as well as those with disabilities, feeling the disparity the most.

The national analysis by the shows that women have to work three times more to get the same pay as men.

New York ranks best in the wage gap, with women receiving 11 percent less than men, while women in Louisiana are at the bottom, earning 30 percent less.

The disparity costs the average full-time working woman in the country approximately $10,000 each year, according to a 2016 Gender Pay Inequality report commissioned by the Joint Economic Committee Democratic Staff.

Kim Churches, CEO of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), said legislative inaction and the silence surrounding the pay disparity are making it difficult for women to advance professionally compared to their male counterparts.

“Women in Georgia and all over the country are sick of unequal pay,” Churches said in a statement issued ahead of Tuesday’s Equal Pay Day.

Little action has been taken by the government to address the pay disparities since the Equal Pay Act of 1963, Churches said.

According to the Council of Economic Advisers, women’s participation in the workforce has contributed $2 trillion to the U.S. economy since 1970.

Churches said it’s about time that women — who, on average, account for 40 percent of household incomes — get treated fairly.

In 2016, the Obama administration and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission passed new rules requiring employers to record pay data — broken down by race, gender, ethnicity and job categories — as a means of determining the scope of the pay disparities. However, the measure, which was to take effect last month, was halted by the Trump administration.

The Trump administration defended the action, arguing that the efforts “lack practical utility, are unnecessarily burdensome, and do not adequately address privacy and confidentiality issues.”

Fatima Goss, president of the National Women’s Law Center, said requiring employers to collect and report pay data is a powerful tool in combating pay discrimination.

The AAUW has launched a nationwide effort to appeal to states to eliminate the pay gap by 2030. According to the association, 38 states have this year introduced new gender pay equity bills.

The association also aims to train women on salary negotiation in an effort the empower them with the “skills they need to effectively understand their market worth.

According to a report by the Institute for Women’s policy research, the gender gap has narrowed since the 1970s but might not close until 2059.