Students Lobby for Gender Pay Study

Students Lobby for Gender Pay Study

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A group of Utah students is lobbying legislators for a bill that would require the state to study whether salaries for state employees differ between men and women.

Utah is ranked second to last in the nation by the National Committee on Pay Equity for gender pay equity, something that troubles a group of Rowland Hall-St. Mark's students.

About 15 students marched around the Capitol last week wearing "Aren't we worth it? HB81" stickers, passing out informational fliers and talking to legislators to drum up support.

The bill would require the state Department of Human Resource Management to study whether pay differences exist between male and female state employees. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Ty McCartney, D-Salt Lake, said he has daughters who will enter the work force and he knows about pay inequities from his working mom.

"I would expect (unequal pay) 20 years ago, even 10 years ago," he said. "I would think it would be different in 2003, but it's not."

The students question whether Utah is the best place for them to work after they graduate from college. "In a way it makes us want to not come back to Utah," said Anna Parks, 15.

The students say they may hold a pay-equity bake sale where women are charged 66 cents for a brownie or soda and men are charged $1, the ratio to which each is paid in Utah, they say. "It's a little taste of their own medicine," Parks said.

Larene Wyss, director of compensation for the state Department of Human Resource Management, says there are so many factors that go into determining an employee's salary -- including education levels, work experience and job performance -- that an equity study could be complicated.

The department has asked to simplify the study, including limiting it to state employees and salary comparisons instead of factoring in benefits.

McCartney said if a pay gap is discovered, he will address the issue with legislation next year.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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