Indiana women fight for equal pay

INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) Twenty-six cents. That’s how much less women in Indiana earn compared to Hoosier men at work, according to local experts.

One State Senator wants to change that, but it may be an uphill battle.

“I think what we’re seeing is a lot of women talking and expressing frustration in not being paid equally,” said Kristen Cooper, CEO of Start Up Ladies.

According to a new study, that gap is growing.

Kim Saxton with the Indiana University School of Business said, “The sad news is in 2016, the wage gap got worse for women in Indiana. It dropped two percentage points from 24 percent to 26 percent. That means women are making $0.74 for every dollar that a man makes.”

The Indiana Institute for Working Families said Indiana has the 6th highest wage gap in the United States.

A gap that shouldn’t be there because of the Federal Equal Pay Act of 1963.

Saxton said: “I think the real issue is that companies just aren’t paying attention to it. We have one example of a company that pays attention to this… In the tech sector, women are paid equally to men because they make that happen. Other companies need to step up and pay attention.”

That’s one of the reasons State Senator Jean Breaux, a Democrat from Indianapolis, is proposing an Equal Pay for Women bill. She says minority women’s pay gap is even worse.

“Minorities at 38 percent – what that tells me is employers are not giving women the same opportunity for pay equity, they’re not giving them the same opportunity for promotion and advancement,” said Breaux. “That’s then limiting a woman to be able to provide for herself and her family.”

Breaux said last session, her equal pay bill did not even get a hearing, and died in the Senate. But, that’s not stopping Breaux from trying again.

“Why are people receiving different pay?” said Breaux. “What can we do to address it? This bill will hopefully elevate that conversation for employers.”

“It’s not going to be women arguing to help women,” said Saxton. “It’s going to be men stepping up to help women that’s going to fix it.”

Since last week, we have been in touch with the media representative for the State Senator who chairs the Committee that would hear an equal pay bill. That State Senator refused to comment for this story.