Women call attention to wage gap
By Ronna Bolante
Advertiser Capitol Bureau
Some of the state's women leaders gathered at the State Capitol yesterday to call attention to the persistent wage gap between American women and men.
"Equal Pay Day," or Tuesday, symbolizes the day in the week when women's median earnings catch up to men's earnings from the previous week, the Hawai'i State Commission on the Status of Women said.
"This is one of the very graphic ways that we can show that it takes us seven days to get the pay for what men get in five days," Lt. Gov Mazie Hirono said. "And frankly, we just cannot continue to have this situation."
Although women nationwide only make 72 cents for every dollar earned by men, Hawai'i women fare slightly better, earning 84 cents to every dollar earned by men, according to the commission.
"However, 84 cents is a long way from equal," commission Chairwoman Leslie Wilkins said. "On an annual income basis, that's about $5,000 per year that Hawai'i women and their families are not receiving. Think how far that can go to raise the standards of living for Hawai'i women and their families."
Hawai'i has the second smallest wage gap in the nation, behind Washington D.C., Wilkins said.
These strides are largely because of strong union representation, Wilkins said. Many Hawai'i women are also employed in the service industry, where they hold a substantial percentage of jobs, she said.
Wilkins pointed out that if comparisons are made using median annual earnings rather than weekly earnings, women must work until May 21 to catch up to men's pay from last year alone.
The state's fourth annual "Equal Pay Day" is part of a nationwide project organized by the National Committee on Pay Equity. More than 600 organizations in all 50 states coordinated activities to raise public awareness on the wage gap between women and men.