Closing in on the gender wage gap

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Updated: Wed, 16 Oct 2013 10:54:29 CST

If you're a woman, you most likely make less than your male counterpart.  That's a proven statistic, but what can society do to change that?  

One Nebraska State Senator says it doesn't start in the legislature.  It starts with the women themselves.

Wednesday night in Grand Island marks the second of three town hall meetings as State Senator Amanda McGill travels the state giving a voice to women in the workforce.

Take a look at our state's legislature. Only 10 out of the 49 state senators are female.

And what about Nebraska as a whole? Across the state only 32.39% of management positions are held by women.

We need more women in elected office, at the head of companies," said District 26 State Senator Amanda McGill

And it's not just the positions they hold, it's also the dollars they make.

"In Omaha we had a woman who had a job in the financial field who left her job for another one and the man who was hired to replace her was being paid $30,000 more than she was," said Senator McGill. 

"I've had friends who have. That just because perhaps they were in a male dominated position, they didn't have the same opportunities as someone else," said YWCA Executive Director Anita Lewandowski Brown. 

In fact, women only make 79 cents for every dollar their male counterpart makes.  But who is to blame?

"Women undervalue themselves or are just happy to have a job and are not necessarily holding out for a job that really acknowledges their value with a fair pay," said Senator McGill. 

Senator McGill says women are less likely than men to apply for those leadership positions or negotiate for a higher salary.

And while she says legislature can help with making companies more transparent about their wages, the only true solution is women learning to value themselves for what they're truly worth.

"It starts with our little girls and teaching them confidence to be whatever they want to be," said Senator McGill.

The Town hall meeting was inspired by LR 295, which Senator McGill introduced earlier this year.  It's aimed at closing the income gap between men and women.

From Grand Island, Senator McGill will travel to Lincoln where she'll hold the final town hall meeting on October 24th.