November 17, 2011
Missouri Women in Trades (MOWIT) has released their 2012 calendar and tied it to the theme of eliminating the wage gap between men and women.
"Two-thirds of women work in only 20 of the 500 occupations in the U.S., and only six percent of working women work in nontraditional jobs. . . but women in nontraditional jobs typically earn 20-30 percent more than women in traditional occupations," said Teresa Willis, executive director of MOWIT. Willis said that women are not only allowed to work in construction but that — due to construction unions and prevailing wage laws — they are paid the same as men for the same work.
MOWIT's Tradeswoman Calendar honors the pioneers, who are paving the way for women in construction trades and serving as role models for girls thinking about their careers.
The wage gap has importance consequences for Missouri families and the Missouri economy, said Shirley Breeze, of the American Association of University Women's Grassroots Leadership Corps.
"In Missouri, on average, a woman working full time is paid $31,993 per year, while a man working full time is paid $41,660 per year. This creates a wage gap of $9,667 between full-time working men and women in the state," she said.
"As a group, full-time working women in Missouri lose approximately $7,753,623,934 each year due to the wage gap," she added.
That is significant, Breeze said, because, women in Missouri are increasingly responsible for the economic security of their families:
"Sixty-eight percent of working mothers in Missouri bring in more than a quarter of their families' income and 292,577 households in Missouri are headed by women," she said, and, "nearly 33 percent of women-headed households in Missouri live below the poverty level. Eliminating the wage gap would provide critical income to 95,965 families living in poverty," and give most other families more money for food, gas, rent or mortgage payments, or health insurance.
Willis said that women have been slowly gaining entry into historically nontraditional jobs, "but there is still work to be done to even the field and eliminate barriers."
Beth Barton, a carpenter and a member of MOWIT's board of directors noted that in 2008 there were only 140 women among the 20,000 carpenters in greater St. Louis area. With the Missouri Women In Trades' Tradeswoman Calendar, "we're working to change the mindset of the culture," she said.
Breeze also urged people to support passage of an equal employment practices act in the Missouri legislature and passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act in the U.S. Congress.