The YWCA of Olympia has been working to bring awareness to what they see as an unacceptable wage gap in Washington, particularly for women working in Thurston County.
Women’s advocacy groups proclaimed April 12 as Equal Pay Day to raise awareness of the pay gap. While the US Census Bureau reports the median earnings of women in Washington are about 78 cents for every dollar earned by men, that number is worse in Thurston County, where the YWCA found women making 68 cents to the dollar. Hilary Soens says the wage ratio is calculated by dividing median earnings of full-time year-round working women by the median of the same for men.
But KIRO Radio’s Jason Rantz challenged her on whether YWCA is really using “apples-to-apples” comparisons, seeing as these numbers compare everyone with full-time jobs, meaning a janitor and a neuro-surgeon are put on the same list. Soens acknowledged that the stats aren’t perfect.
“While some discrimination is captured by that figure, it also reflects occupational segregation,” she said. “We know women are clustered in low-paying jobs.”
She said finding true apples-to-apples comparisons are hard to come by.
“The problem is that it is hard to calculate that number, and that’s why I think there is a lot of skepticism around how dramatic the wage gap actually is and whether it is as profound an issue as one might think,” she said.
Rantz counters that the comparisons are purposefully ignored to try to make a political point that isn’t valid.
Listen below as Rantz suggests shifting the conversation from talking to businesses about the wage gap to encouraging more gender diversity in school majors.