To say that women are patient when it comes to social change is an understatement at best.
Women are used to incremental gains for their gender, sometimes painstakingly glacial. Still, applause is due for how a bill on gender pay equity is slowly gaining momentum.
Last month, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry testified against a House bill seeking to make available best practices on addressing gender pay inequity.
The chamber’s testimony had staked the group’s ground on the fear that the guidelines could morph into mandates. The bills don’t call for mandates, just information-gathering and dissemination. There are no penalties for not complying and no enforcement provisions.
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Later the chamber testified in a hearing before the Senate on a nearly identical bill. This time, the organization was neither in support nor opposed. So backers believe previous arguments wilted a bit.
Wendy Doyle, president and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City, is thrilled. For her organization’s goals, it’s important that such a stalwart of business interests showed a shift, no matter how small.
This week, the Senate bill passed out of committee. And 21 new bipartisan co-sponsors were announced for the House bill. What the bills are calling for is exactly what will probably draw even more support.
The foundation is the catalyst behind the effort to right the wrongs behind the statistic that women in Missouri make 71 cents to every dollar that men earn when they work full time and year-round. Say that and doubters still come out of the woodwork.
The issue is complicated, and different industries face their own unique challenges. Yet increasingly, new research is pushing back against the naysayers.
A well-sourced piece appeared last year in The Washington Post that ticked through the five greatest myths about the gender pay gap. Data about the impact of motherhood and mistaken assumptions about how much progress has occurred were among the points addressed.
Solutions are not simply a matter of assertiveness in the workplace, women choosing different career paths or women becoming more comfortable asking for better pay.
Stay tuned. Missouri is on track to play a role in leading these conversations forward. Ultimately, that will bode progress for both genders.