Pay Gap: Day spotlights pay difference in genders

HOUGHTON – Even controlling for factors such as field, education and experience, a pay gap persists between men and women.

To raise awareness of that, the Society of Women Engineers and Copper Country League of Women Voters joined others around the country Tuesday in celebrating Equal Pay Day. The day – April 12 – marks how far into the next calendar year a woman would have to work to earn the same amount as a man.

Group members passed out flyers, as well as cookies frosted with “79%” – the percentage of the average man’s salary the average woman makes.

“We wanted to get out here and put the data into a form that the quantitative thinkers at Michigan Tech could understand so that they would be comfortable saying, ‘Hey that is a valid conclusion. Women are making less, and something should be done about it,'” said Faith Morrison, a professor of chemical engineering at Michigan Tech.

Research shows the differences are mostly the result of unconscious bias. Studies have shown that presented with identical resumes from male and female applicants, the male will receive a higher starting salary.

“We don’t mean to discriminate, but we’ve just never seen a female engineer before, and we tend to think that maybe her job is being done less well,” Morrison said.

Those pay gaps accumulate over time, so that a woman in engineering could make up to $400,000 less over 25 years.

Leah Bectel, an environmental engineering freshman at Michigan Tech who is in both LWV and SWE, was handing out cookies to passersby.

“I think that we just want men and women to make the exact same,” she said. “We don’t want women to make more than men for the same job … we want to raise awareness. Men and women should care about this, because it affects everyone. It affects our moms, it affects our sisters, our nieces.”