Step Up For Equal Voice, Pay

EDITORIAL The Joplin Globe, Mo.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Great opinion piece out of the "Joplin Globe" in Missouri on why it is so important for women to become a part of the legislative decision making process.

The Joplin Globe, Mo.

If women are going to even the pay-scale playing field, they will also have to become decision-makers, not just in the boardrooms but also in their own communities, their counties and their states.

It doesn't mean they have to hit the campaign trail. It can be as simple as volunteering to hold a position on a city board. And that's something, studies say, women are seemingly reluctant to do. Instead, they wait to be asked.

According to our local numbers, that's not working so well.

In a July 30 story by Globe reporter Crystal Thomas, we reported that of 22 Joplin city boards and commissions, there were four that do not have any women on the board and only two -- the Joplin Library Board and the Historic Preservation Commission -- that are made up of a majority of women.

What does that have to do with paychecks? According to a study commissioned by the Women's Foundation, which serves Missouri and Kansas, women are more likely than men to choose a profession that requires occupational licensing.

The report also proposed that easing back on licensing regulations and upping representation on boards and commissions that regulate those licenses could make a positive change for women entrepreneurs.

Locally, we found a woman whose specialty was hair braiding and had to pay $8,000 to attend school in Joplin for 10 months at 40 hours a week. Unlike other states, Missouri requires a complete cosmetology license.

That's just one example of a licensing requirement that seems to hinder rather than protect. About one-third of all businesses in Missouri and the United States are owned by women. Getting that new enterprise off the ground means running up against expensive licensure requirements that may not have any bearing on their chosen field. Instead of starting a business, too many women hit a bureaucratic wall.

Missouri's 40 occupational licensing boards and commissions oversee a large number of industries and professions.

Reform is needed. But we don't think that will happen unless women are willing to raise their hands and ask to be part of the rule-making decisions.

Through something called the appointments project, the Women's Foundation is working to change that. Women fill out a form with their qualifications and the foundation helps them find a position to apply for that is suited to their experience.

Even if you are not a female business owner, it appears your voice is still sorely needed, not just in our state but in our town.

Consider signing up for a city board and be part of the solution in making sure both men and women are involved in making important decisions that affect public safety, health, zoning laws and regulatory laws.

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