Nearly 80 percent of Wyoming women believe the Equality State should bolster policies to reduce discrimination against women in the workplace.
According to the 2012 Wyoming Women's Issues Survey, 76.9 percent of respondents believe Wyoming should "create stronger government policies or statutes that would reduce workplace gender discrimination."
The Wyoming Business Council, the state agency housing the Wyoming Council for Women's Issues, contracted with the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center at the University of Wyoming to conduct the telephone survey of women in Wyoming for the third time. The Survey Research Center at WYSAC also conducted surveys in 2004 and 2009.
The report released Feb. 22 also showed that 87.5 percent said the state should "strengthen enforcement of existing policies and statutes aimed at reducing workplace gender discrimination."
Researchers telephoned 832 Wyoming women between Sept. 29 and Nov. 21. The survey has a 3.4 percent margin of error with 95 percent confidence in the results.Confidence in results
"We take a lot of pride in our probability design of our surveys, and we're extremely confident in the accuracy of our results," said Brian Harnisch. He is a Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center research scientist who worked on the survey.
Wyoming women are facing growing problems with child care, family issues, elder care and housing, according to the survey.
The survey showed that 68 percent of Wyoming women are unaware that the Equality State has the largest wage gap between men and women in the nation and are unsure where to turn for help. Only 30 percent of respondents said they were aware of the gap.
"That's sad. It hasn't changed much over the last couple of years," said Carma Corra about Wyoming's continuing gender wage gap. Corra is the Wyoming Council for Women's Issues chairwoman in Cheyenne.
Corra cited recent analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by the National Partnership for Women and Families. It said full-time working women in Wyoming are paid 67 cents for every dollar paid to men, which is an annual gap of $17,249.
Nationally, women working full-time are paid 77 cents for every dollar paid to men, Corra said. New questions on wage gap
So Corra said the Council asked more questions about Wyoming's gender wage gap in the 2012 survey.
But 82 percent agreed that "overall, working women in Wyoming are earning less than working men," compared to 9 percent saying they somewhat or strongly disagreed.
More than a third of women surveyed - 36 percent - said they personally are paid less than male colleagues for the same work, and 53 percent say they know of other women in Wyoming who are paid less than males for the same jobs.
Other interesting responses concerning the wage gap included:
- 71 percent agreed that, "the gender wage gap is due partly to different occupational choices that are made by men and women," while 21 percent disagreed with that statement.
- 63 percent agreed that, "the gender wage gap is caused primarily by traditional workplace practices that include gender discrimination," while 23 percent disagreed.
- 57 percent agreed that "the gender wage gap occurs because women typically work in jobs which pay less," while 35 percent disagreed.
Jan Torres of Rock Springs is the vice chairwoman of Wyoming Council for Women's Issues.
Torres said the legislature provided the funding for the council and the surveys because it wants to do something about inequality in the Equality State.
She said the survey helps generate grass-roots involvement and solutions since the information is used "to drive our programs."
The Council has constructed programs to address education and employment issues based on what it has learned from past surveys, she noted as examples.
Employment is the only issue with a significant downward trend as a major concern for Cowboy State women in the survey.
In 2004, 71 percent responded that employment was a major concern. In 2009, 65.4 percent and in 2012, 64 percent said employment was a major concern.Health care a top concern
"Health care is the number one issue for women in Wyoming that has gotten worse," Torres said. The survey showed that 32 percent of Wyoming women say they have personal experience with health care problems.
Availability, the high cost of insurance coverage and services and reduced or eliminated coverage by employers are cited as the leading problems, Torres said.
Childcare at 28 percent and domestic violence at 22 percent are the second and third most common problems women cited.
The biggest problem with childcare is cost, according to 40 percent of those surveyed.
About one in five women in Wyoming are affected by domestic violence according to the survey, which is up slightly from previous surveys.
Of the 18 percent who report problems with substance abuse, 60 percent name alcohol as their biggest concern.
The report also indicated a growing issue with caring for elderly relatives. The survey showed 62.7 percent of respondents had problems caring for elder family members in 2012 compared to 55.7 percent in 2004 and 59.4 percent in 2009.Information and help available
"Over and over and over again, the personal comments mention that women do not know where to go for help," Corra said.
Help, contacts and more information and the full 102-page report are available online at www.wyomingbusiness.org
or by contacting Chava Case at the Wyoming Business Council at 777-2823 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Wyoming Business Report freelance writer Bill McCarthy covers the legislature and Cheyenne.