JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A Missouri House committee on Monday heard legislation that aims to reduce the pay gap that exists between men and women in Missouri.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Stephen Webber, D-Columbia, would require the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations to create guidelines detailing best practices for achieving pay equality for both public and private employees.
“A number of studies here in Missouri and nationally have documented over time, consistently, that women make less than men do,” Webber said. He pointed directly to a study released last month by the Women’s Foundation which showed that a woman in Missouri makes 71 percent of what a man in an equal position, in the same location and with an equal education would make.
According to the foundation, women make up 49 percent of the state’s workforce and are less likely to be unemployed than a man. They studied the state’s workforce, and found that a woman makes, on average, 29 percent less than a man in an equal position. In Carroll County, Missouri, according to their research, a woman is likely to make 49 percent less than man.
“Economically self-sufficient women will lead Missouri’s next chapter of economic grown and by supporting this bill, you will be investing in a stronger economy for all Missourians,” said Wendy Doyle, president of the foundation.
Webber’s legislation would not enact a mandate on businesses. Rather, it would require the Department of Labor to produce guidelines defining what gender equality is, what leads to pay inequality, and offers suggestions of how to achieve pay equality.
It was opposed by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Industries of Missouri, both of which testified that the state’s existing anti-discrimination policies should be enough to entice equal pay.
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the foundation’s finding about the amount of women serving in the state’s workforce as 51 percent. Women, according to the report, make up 49 percent of the state’s workforce.