Women rally to close gender wage gap

By Shelby Mullis

INDIANAPOLIS — With miniature PayDay candy bars in hand, Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, and Sen. Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis, are calling on fellow Indiana lawmakers to close one of the nation’s largest wage gaps.

“This is what it looks like when women go home with their paycheck,” Lawson said at a press conference Wednesday, holding the nearly two-inch long, “snack-size” treat in the air.

Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, discusses House Bill 1390 during a press conference Wednesday. Photo by Zoie Richey, TheStatehouseFile.com

Hoosier women currently make 74 cents for every dollar earned by Hoosier men, according to a study completed by the Indiana Institute for Working Families. The gap, however, is larger for minority women, nearing 36 percent for African-American, and biracial women, and 44 percent for Latinas.

Both Breaux and Lawson are working together this session to pass legislation that would hold employers accountable for permitting a wage gap between male and female workers.

Senate Bill 93 and House Bill 1390 would grant the civil rights commission the ability to investigate employees’ complaints of unfair pay based on sex, race or national origin. HB 1390 would also prohibit employers from punishing employees for comparing or disclosing wages.

“I should not have to work two- or three-times longer than my male counterpart in order to put food on the table for my family, provide clothing and shelter and nourishment,” Breaux said. I should not have to work two- or three-times harder, and I do in Indiana.”

Sen. Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis, discusses Senate Bill 93 during a press conference. Photo by Zoie Richey, TheStatehouseFile.com

Rima Shahid, executive director of Women4Change, recently joined the fight for equal wages in September. Now, Shahid is working with Breaux, Lawson and the Indiana Equal Pay Coalition to change Indiana’s rank in the wage gap.

“I’m not getting paid in the state of Indiana,” Shahid said. “As a minority, I find this even more appalling that I’m getting paid even less.”

Both bills have been referred to committees, but neither has been scheduled for hearings.

Shelby Mullis is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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