Published May 7, 2014
By Justin Campbell, KEPR
The gender pay gap, the disparity between dollars earned by women and
men for doing the same job, has made headlines. KEPR discovered that gap
is wide here in the Tri-Cities as well.
Maria Ellinger is
looking to improve her standard of living, so she's enrolled in a class
at CBC. It's a course on manufacturing, traditionally a vocation chosen
by men. Maria is one of the few women in the program.
"I'm hoping to get a better pay and have good benefits, and that's what I'm looking for," said Maria.
the Tri-Cities, wages have risen for women over the last decade. Back
in 2000, women made just 53 cents on the dollar compared to a man. By
2012, that number had risen to 70 cents. Nationally, that number was at
81 cents for the same time period. Updated stats aren't yet ready for
our region, but the national gender pay gap was most recently found to
be 83 cents for a woman compared to every dollar a man made.
Students like Maria may be helping close that gap.
more movement toward getting female workers into higher and more
technical jobs in manufacturing," said Ajsa Suljic, a regional labor
Getting more women into programs like STEM - science,
technology, engineering, and math - and manufacturing at CBC is the key
to improving the wage gap between men and women locally here in the
"It would be real nice if a lot more women would have
the opportunity to step into manufacturing," said Maria. "I think
they'd love it."
Although Hanford does play a major part in local wages, too. The site is responsible for a third of the local payroll.
"Majority of all work force at Hanford is still male, that work in occupations that pay a lot more money," said Suljic.
It's an effort federal, state and local governments are trying to change.
"We are pushing toward educating more females in those occupations where male workers are mostly dominant," said Suljic.
And Maria believes all women have the opportunity to do this.
"If they could step up and not be scared, we have the opportunity to do it too," she said.
Between 2005 and 2010, women were hired more than anyone else in the Tri-Cities.
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