Columbia women combat pay gap increase

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COLUMBIA – The gap between men’s and women’s earnings in Missouri increased in 2015, according to a recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nickie Davis, owner of Columbia’s Muse Clothing, is fed up.

“It’s 2016 and there’s no excuse for it,” Davis said.

The data shows women in Missouri made just more than 77 percent of what their male counterparts made in 2015, nearly four percentage points below the national average.

Davis, however, does not let those numbers dictate reality.

“We want everyone to feel comfortable here and that includes our staff,” Davis said. “There’s no reason that a man should get paid more than a woman here, and if there is, it should be a very specific reason, like they’re a manager.”

Davis was a finalist for the Columbia Daily Tribune’s Emerging Woman of the Year award in 2016, as part of the publication’s Women in Business awards. In Columbia, Davis is just one of many women who are bucking the trend.

“I think last month it came out showing we’re number two by Smart Assets for that gap being the least amount,” said Columbia Chamber of Commerce President Matt McCormick. “Last year, one came out showing that we were number five in that same issue.”

The purpose of the Chamber of Commerce’s Women’s Network is to “enhance the personal and professional growth of business people and to encourage participation and recognition of women in the community,” according to its website.

Despite Columbia’s progress, however, the state still ranked 37th in the nation in terms of women’s earnings in relation to men’s. For that to change, Davis said it would take a culture shock.

“I think the solution is people waking up and realizing that the more money there is in any American’s pocket is more money in our communities that’s going to grow our communities and grow who America is in general,” Davis said. “We need to get over this.”