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Study: Women still making less money than men - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Study: Women still making less money than men

Northfield, Vermont - April 18, 2011

"People deserve to be paid equally for what they do," said Wendy Love of the Vermont Commission on Women.

It's Love's job to keep track of what women earn. A recent study reveals that Vermont women-- on average-- earn 82 percent of what men do.

"I think financial services; women earn substantially less, maybe in the 50 percent range. There's some industries, like fast food, where women make 90 percent of what men make," Love said.

The Vermont Commission on Women and the attorney general's office are encouraging businesses to perform internal wage audits to ensure sure they're paying on par.

"Historically we were a very male-dominated organization. That's been changing for a long time," said Jay Wisner, who heads human resources at Norwich University.

Wisner's department spotted what looked like a pattern of unexplainable pay gaps in the schools of math and science.

"It's been a concern for a long time for the university," Wisner said.

He needed to rule out gender discrimination. So the university brought in an outside consultant to perform a pay audit of more than 500 employees-- from staff and faculty to grounds and facilities.

"What they found for Norwich is that the factors that explain differences in pay are level of the job, length of time in the job," Wisner said.

By law companies must pay male and female workers with equal education and experience the same, for the same job.

"I don't think any company starts out wanting to violate the law," Love said.

Where equal pay can get tricky is at the negotiating table. Experts say men tend to haggle for higher wages and this can create unintentional gender pay discrepancies.

"When a woman is forthright she is often seen as aggressive where if a man is forthright he is seen as forthright," Love said.

So what should a woman do if she suspects her paycheck is lower than her male co-worker's?

"Ask them, just ask them right out if they're willing to share their salary," Love advised.

Businesses in Vermont are not allowed to have policies forbidding discussion around salaries. And the state is now protecting workers who do ask.

"Since 2005 we have a law that's pretty unique in the nation that says you may not retaliate against a woman or anybody who seeks to see if they're being paid equally," Love said.

If you do suspect that you are being paid less than you should, make sure to document all pertinent wage information, do some research on how other co-workers have been treated, try talking to your employer, and finally if you decide to file a claim, call the attorney general's office.

Jennifer Reading - WCAX News

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