House committee holds hearing about gender wage gap

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JEFFERSON CITY - Leaders from the Missouri House of Representatives' Department of Labor and Industrial Relations Committee met at the Missouri State Capitol Monday afternoon to hold a hearing about the gender wage gap.

Specifically, leaders were talking about House Bill 44, which would create "best practice" guidelines, including definitions of what pay inequality is and ways to make equality in pay between genders happen.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Stephen Webber, D-Columbia, said women are paid less than men in just about every line of work, averaging out to 71 cents for every dollar a man is paid.

Those who spoke in support of the proposed legislation agreed there needs to be some sort of change made.

Opponents of the bill made it clear they are not opposed to equal pay, but are worried the bill would either not change pay rates much.

Others said they were worried it would lead to more strict guidelines down the road.

Recent data from the American Association of University Women shows Missouri ranks almost exactly in the middle of all states when it comes to the gender wage gap. Washington, D.C. had the lowest gap (91 cents/dollar) while Louisiana had the highest gap (66 cents/dollar).

If the bill passes, it will take effect in January 2016.

For a better look at the AAUW's new data on the pay gap, click here.