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Study cites gender wage gap

In these tough economic times, women are facing an uphill battle as more of them find themselves in the breadwinner role while still earning less than their male counterparts.

In these tough economic times, women are facing an uphill battle as more of them find themselves in the breadwinner role while still earning less than their male counterparts.

"Gender cannot be the only reason to pay less," said Maureen Kelly Jonason of the North Dakota American Association of University Women. "It's a very old-fashioned viewpoint, but it's out there."

AAUW recently released a report showing that North Dakota and Minnesota lag behind the national average in the wage gap.

North Dakota women earn 66 percent of what male counterparts make.

That puts North Dakota at 49th in the nation during an uncertain economy that is forcing more women into the role as head of the household.

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"They have to make sure they're bringing home the bacon more fairly," said Lisa Maatz, the director of public policy of the AAUW.

Minnesota women fare better, earning 77 percent of what men do, though they are still behind the national average of 78 percent.

The report follows U.S. House passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which closes loopholes in the 1963 Equal Pay Act and gives employers more incentives to reduce pay inequity.

The bill was passed by the Housel in January with the support of Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D.

"Equal work deserves equal pay; it's as simple as that," Pomeroy stated in a news release. "We've made strides in closing the wage gap, but we still have a ways to go."

Now the AAUW is looking for U.S. Senate passage.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar,

D-Minn., co-sponsored the bill, but Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Kent Conrad, D-N.D., haven't stated their positions on the legislation.

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"It would be very important for the North Dakota senators to get on the bill," Maatz said. "This bill is 45 years old and no one's taken a pen and paper to it."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515

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