By Hugh Bailey
Connecticut Post, Bridgeport.
In Connecticut’s richest towns, women who work full time make half as much as men. Statewide, women who work as physicians earn 56 percent as much as a man in the same job. Only 17 percent of women in Connecticut’s cities have a bachelor’s degree.
Despite broad gains in recent decades for women in the Connecticut labor force, stubborn disparities remain in pay, education and the types of jobs women are likely to work, according to a report from a state agency.
Carolyn Treiss, executive director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, which funded the report, said while there is no way to force pay equity on private companies, shedding light on the situation can help bring change.
“Our job at PCSW is to study these chronic issues and make the government, the public and the business community aware of practices that hurt women and families,” she said in an email. “We provide them with hard data which, we hope, they will consider when forming policies and practices.”
Treiss said the reluctance among many people to discuss their salaries makes change difficult. “If there were more transparency in private enterprise, and the stigma were removed from talking about salaries, it would undoubtedly even the playing field,” she said. “And yet it’s still a common practice in many companies to forbid employees from discussing their salaries.”
The report, The Status of Women in Connecticut’s Workforce, was conducted by Cynthia Hess of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in Washington, D.C. It tracks progress, and its lack, since a similar report was issued in 1998.
By many measures, the state is doing better. Labor force participation, annual salaries and gender-earnings ratios have all improved since the 1990s. About 44 percent of employed women in Connecticut are in professional or managerial positions, a significant increase since 1995, when the rate was 33 percent.