Elkhart, St. Joseph counties falling behind in equal pay for equal work

NOW: Elkhart, St. Joseph counties falling behind in equal pay for equal work


SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- On Wednesday night, a group in Elkhart discussed the gender pay gap in Indiana and the rest of the nation. 

A report showed that Indiana is in the bottom five states for where men and women receive equal pay. According to a 2017 report, Elkhart and St. Joseph County is struggling to keep up with changing times. 

“It’s not good,” said Beverly Wiemeri, an American Association of University Women member. 

The AAUW hosted the event at the Elkhart Public Library featuring Professor Kasey Buckles. Buckles said the gender pay gap is the number that captures the difference between pay in men and women. 

Studies show the main culprits of the pay gap are level of education, experience level, and occupation choice. 

But how is Elkhart affected?

“As a chamber, as a community, as a region, clearly that’s something that we all need to be focused on and pay attention to,” said Levon Johnson, president and CEO of the Elkhart Chamber of Commerce.

Johnson said talent recruitment and job growth are the priorities of the Chamber. But he said the gender pay gap can affect those priorities. 

“As we look at recruiting people to this area, we want to make sure that both men and women look at this as a place where they can make it,” he said. “They’re going to have equal opportunities to not only the same work but also be compensated in the same way for doing the same work.”

According to a 2017, in Indiana’s second congressional district women are paid 70.5 percent of what men are paid. Nationally, in 2019, women get 80 percent of what men make. 

“There’s really not a good reason a woman should be getting 80 cents to the dollar,” said Wiemeri.

Child care policies, changes in family roles, and societal change could be a solution, according to some studies shared on Wednesday. However, Buckles said access to opportunity rather than pay is the goal. 

“It’s not that we need to have pay to be exactly the same,” she said. “We don’t need 50 percent of men and women in every occupation, we need a world in which people have the same opportunities.”

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