WASHINGTON – Women in Maryland earn 74 cents for every $1 earned by men, or $173 less per week than the median salary for men, according to a study released Wednesday.
The gap was even wider for minority women, according to the report by the AFL-CIO and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. It said minority women earned 64 cents for every $1 earned by men, or $244 less per week.
The report said Maryland women’s earnings are identical to women nationally: 74 cents to the dollar for all women in the country and 64 cents for all minority women.
“There have differences in opportunity and in large part, women have been disproportionately channeled into `women’s work’ that has always been undervalued,” said AFL-CIO spokeswoman Naomi Walker.
Even today, she said, “there is no profession where women earn as much as men do, whether it is as a secretary or a doctor.”
Maryland business leaders said they were not surprised by the findings, which were based on 1997 data from the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But, they said, they feel that things are changing for the better.
“There are more women in the senior executive ranks, female entrepreneurs,” said Bob McKinney, president of the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce. “We see that a lot in this chapter alone. At the mid- and senior level I think the pay is comparable.”
The study, “Equal Pay For Working Families,” was released Wednesday in conjunction with a 24-state effort to get legislation that ensures working women earn equal pay.
Maryland is not one of those states. And at least one official with a women’s commission in Maryland said that legislation is not the only solution to the gender pay gap.
“We have had laws on the books for decades requiring equal pay for equal work,” said Judith Vaughan-Prather, executive director of the Montgomery County Commission on Women.
She said pay equity that will take both societal shifts and legislation.
Diane Murphy, senior vice president and human resources manager for First Maryland Bancorp, said she thinks that shift has begun.
She noted that at First National Bank of Maryland, which is part of First Maryland Bancorp, the president and chief operating officer is a woman, Susan Keating.
“We’re particularly proud as a company to have fairly high levels held by women in the company which makes it an attractive place to work for women and we make sure we pay commensurate for the job responsibilities,” Murphy said.
McKinney also said he sees growing numbers of female-owned businesses and high-ranking businesswomen in his chamber.
“The days of the 1950s model of the man as the main breadwinner is over,” said McKinney, who noted that his wife, a partner in a law firm, earns more than he does.
But Vaughan-Prather said the gap is still very real to working women trying to make ends meet.
“Take those figures and multiply them by the four weeks in a month and see the difference?” she asked.
Gloria Johnson, president of the Coalition of Labor Union Women, said the study shows that much remains to be done.
“This is a sad picture of how large the pay gaps are between men and women,” Johnson said. “It actually shows how far we are from where we should be.”