NewsWomen's History Month


Report: Colorado narrowing gender pay gap three times faster than other states, but discrepancies persist

Posted: 11:12 PM, Mar 29, 2024
Updated: 2024-03-30 01:12:58-04
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DENVER — The gender wage gap is narrowing three times faster in Colorado compared to other states, but discrepancies between what men and women earn persist.

That gap, which Colorado women have been forced to confront for decades, was reduced by 7 cents since 2021, according to recent data from the Women's Foundation of Colorado. That's three times faster than the rest of the US.

In 2022, women in Colorado were paid 87 cents for each dollar men made, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report. That is a large increase from pre-pandemic levels of 78.1 cents for each dollar men made. Nationally, women earn 84 cents for every dollar men earned in 2022 even though more than half of college-educated workers are women.

The true scope of that gap comes into better focus when looking at the wide chasm between the median income of men and women in Colorado. In 2022, male earnings in Colorado were $60,574, while female earnings were $12,193 lower than men at $48,381.

Colorado's neighboring states of Wyoming and Utah are not doing as well in closing the gender gap. The disparity in median incomes between men and women in Wyoming was $21,676. And Utah was at $17,303, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Simone D. Ross, CEO of the Colorado Women's Chamber of Commerce based in Denver, believes that while the wage gap is narrowing, the speed at which it's moving is frustratingly slow and it may take decades to equal out on a national level.

"It's a significant discrepancy, discrepancy for women specifically, because there's a lot of implicit bias around creating access to capital for people," Ross explained. "But what we do know is that funders are more prone to fund men. Because they view men as being the credible leader, they view men as having more value, they view their concepts as having more value. Additionally, men, particularly white men have access to a higher capital network that can give them the funding and the dollars that they need for their businesses."

According to Ross, the role that implicit bias has in holding women back in the workplace — especially women of color — shouldn't be overlooked. She said it could be the root cause of the wage gap and other hurdles women face on the job site.

"Implicit biases are things that we all possess, right? It's a neurological design, our brains, help us form opinions based on experiences. And based on our belief system, and based on what we were trained to do," she said. "It becomes problematic when our implicit biases are informed by stereotypes informed by prejudice informed by sexism or racism ... Oftentimes, implicit bias is the root cause of us sometimes finding that there is a gender pay gap, or that women are not being promoted, or that mid-level managers are not being promoted into upper-level leaders within corporations."

Why does Colorado appear to be moving faster toward equal pay? One of the reasons this could be, Ross pointed out, is the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act that Colorado implemented in 2021. The law requires employers to post a salary range with the job opening so applicants can know right away how much they would earn.

"What this means is that women in Colorado are taking home roughly $2,952 extra than they had been before we passed this legislation. And so that's a big deal for women in Colorado. But there still is a pay gap ... we've still got a lot of work to do in Colorado," Ross said.

But some studies suggest the narrowing of the gender wage gap is artificial and due, in part, to the coronavirus pandemic, which altered the labor force participation of women. There are over a million fewer women in the labor force now than at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.

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