Wyoming’s women are strong.
We have to be to live where jobs are few, where wages are low, where the average person of either gender works more than one job to give their families the necessities. That’s hard on men and worse for Wyoming women who made (National Women’s Law Center figures), just before the virus hit, $0.30 less per dollar than men in equivalent jobs.
No surprise, that means Wyoming’s women had the distinction of being the poorest paid in the nation.
It’s been over half a century since Congress legislated equal pay for equal work. In the past few years, women were beginning to narrow the gap from the 27% less that I was paid when I joined the workforce in 1963 to an average across America of 20% less. But not here.
As for any eventual equality? Projections show Wyoming women might reach wage parity but long, long after it comes to every other state in the union and the District of Columbia. The Women’s Policy Research Institute figures say, possibly, by 2159.
Then again, we probably won’t see wage parity even in the next century and a half because that model hasn’t been adjusted for the effects of the virus.
The above statistics and projection came out the month before many women lost their jobs, had their businesses shut down or, ironically sometimes worse, became the backbone of the “essential” workforce.
At the same time, thanks to the virus, women in all categories had to take on much more unpaid domestic work. Surveys of working mothers across America all report that their domestic chores have doubled while they’ve added home schooling to their routines.
For the moment, remove home schooling, and the rest of it is particularly true here. Why? Because we enjoy/suffer (depending on your point of view) a patriarchal culture. Women – working or otherwise – are widely expected, simply as a matter of course, to handle the home and everything in it, which includes anything related to children.
We’ve been raised to believe that our menfolk are the breadwinners while we are the helpmates. If we are also in the workforce? Well, that changes nothing in the domestic contract which then justifies employers paying us less.
As for single-adult households? The bulk of ours are headed by women who, perforce, have to do it all.
And, we do. We’re strong.
Other negative impacts on women from the virus come from all sides. We must cope with an economic downturn, reduced numbers of jobs and lower salaries, depreciation of the dollar, an increase in domestic violence (mostly male on female), government belt-tightening, and reduced funding of social services – the ones largely used by women.
Economists understand that this situation drags down the entire economy by repressing the earning power of around half the available workforce. Low earnings equal low spending/consumption equal low tax base equal downward spiraling.
But Wyoming’s women are strong. We’ll cope.