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Addressing the gender wage gap in Indiana

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By Mary Kuhlman

Women are constantly paid less than men in Indiana and other states, and today's observance of Equal Pay Day aims to call attention to this persistent inequity.

April 14 represents how far into the new year a woman needs to work in order to match the amount of money a man made in the previous year.

Linda Baechle, chief executive officer of YWCA North Central Indiana, says females in Indiana earn just 74 percent of what their male counterparts are paid. And she says most people don't realize it, nor do they intend to perpetuate the gap.

"Why is it there would still in this day and age be this huge gap?" she asks. "If job titles have the same responsibilities, they ought to have equivalent pay. I think it's really up to employers to solve this."

When the Equal Pay Act of 1963 was signed into law, women were making only 59 cents for every dollar a man made. While the ratio is improving, the pay gap for Indiana women is not expected to close until 2058.

Last month, the Paycheck Fairness Act was introduced in both houses of Congress. It would help close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and help narrow the gap.

Wage experts say the pay gap occurs in every occupation and education level, and includes women with or without children. Baechle adds that women of color earn even less.

"If you look at what Hispanic women and Latina and African American women are making, they are paid about 53 percent of what white men are paid," she says. "So how in the world can these women who are single mothers take care of their kids?"

Baechle says women are paid almost seven percent less than men just one year after college, and the gap only grows from there.

"Female students have the same student loans the male students have, it just takes them a heck of a lot longer to get them paid off," says Baechle. "Typically a college-educated woman working full-time earns about $35,000, and a typical college-educated man earns $42,000."

Baechle says the YWCA is encouraging women to wear red today to symbolize how women are "in the red" with their earnings.

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