Montana ranks near the bottom nationwide for pay equity with women earning 67 percent of what men earn. The third annual Equal Pay Summit being held in Bozeman today and tomorrow kicked off with a discussion on negotiating a higher salary.
In Montana, 60 percent of women are in the workforce but the Treasure State ranks 39th when it comes to pay equity. In 2013, Governor Bullock created the Equal Pay for Equal Work Task Force to try to find the causes of the gender pay gap.
Labor commissioner Pam Bucy says one of the areas the task force has focused on is helping women ask for more money.
"Another issue that data is very clear causes some of the wage gap is the ability to negotiate for pay. At the start when you’re just leaving college and there’s very clear evidence that women will go in and offer or negotiate for up to $10,000 less than their male counterparts. Not only do they not ask for enough but if they are very aggressive negotiators it can backfire on them. So there’s a little bit of a double standard in how you can negotiate as a woman in many occupations."
Bucy says Montana also suffers from a lack of female CEOs or women in positions of upper management. It’s a nationwide problem, so we’re not alone, but according to Bucy studies show that companies that attract, retain and promote women perform better in terms of their bottom lines.
"You know nobody will say it’s because more women are there but the connection is, if there’s a more gender-diverse board of directors or upper level management, businesses do better. What the causality is nobody’s willing to say but the fact remains that businesses that have done better and have been more successful and had higher productivity and higher profit margins have been businesses that have more women in management and on their boards of directors."
The Equal Pay Summit continues Tuesday on the Montana State University campus in Bozeman. The keynote address will come from Jen Welter, the NFL’s first female coach.