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Paying women less than men is as bad for men as it is for women.
The state Legislature has the opportunity to show it believes men and women deserve equal pay for doing the same work.
Rep. Geran Tarr of Anchorage has introduced House Bill 392 to establish a Commission for Women and Girls, which would be charged with identifying legal problems that allow for the disparity. The commission also would determine the best ways to promote economic, social, legal and political justice for women.
The commission’s duty would be to prepare a report for the governor and Legislature every other year with recommendations and a plan of action, according to a press release from Tarr’s office.
Women in Alaska earn an average of 68 cents for every dollar a man makes doing the same work. The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development produced a study in 2017 that showed the disparity in pay occurs in 80 of Alaska’s occupations and at every age and educational level.
The 16-member commission would include 12 members appointed by the governor and four by the Legislature. Of the 12, they would have expertise in law, pay equity, victim advocacy, workforce development, labor and social justice.
When women receive less pay than men, they bring fewer dollars into a household. If men are part of the family, then their household is economically affected. If they aren’t, but their children are in the household, then men are affected through their children’s economic well-being.
It’s in the best interest of both men and women that women receive equal pay for equal work. If it takes a commission to realize that, then so be it.