March 31st is Equal Pay Day, symbolizing how far into this year the average women must work in order to earn what the average man earned last year. 

A new state-by-state analysis released in recognition of Equal Pay Day on March 31 finds that women employed full time, year-round in Kansas are typically paid just 79 cents for every dollar paid to a man in Kansas – a yearly pay difference of $10,827 – with women earning just slightly more in Missouri for a yearly pay difference of $10,695. 

This annual wage gap represents money women in both states could be spending on housing, child care or health insurance costs. If the wage gap were closed, on average, an employed woman would be able to afford nearly 13 additional months of rent, nearly 15 additional months of child care, or more than eight additional months of premiums for employer-based health insurance.

Wage Gap Causes

Each year, the National Partnership for Women & Families releases a new analysis of the gender wage gap as a way to bring attention to both the gap and what causes it. 

“Many people try to explain away the wage gap as a result of choices women make or harmless happenstance, but as we peel back the contributing factors we see a culture that has disempowered women for centuries,” said National Partnership President Debra L. Ness.

Even with the “MeToo” movement, women still suffer in a society that supports both race and gender discrimination said Ness.

According to their analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, nationally, Latinas are typically paid 54 cents, Native women 57 cents and Black women 62 cents to every dollar paid to White, non-Hispanic men. Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women are paid 90 cents for every dollar paid to White, non-Hispanic men, and the gaps are even larger for many AAPI women depending on their ethnic and national backgrounds and immigration status.

Closing the Gap

According to the American Association of University Women, women made 82% of what men made in 2018, compared with 60.5% in 1969.  At that rate, it will take 100 more years to close the gap. 

The closing of the gender wage gap could be due to a number of factors, such as women obtaining higher levels of education and going into fields that were normally dominated by men. In addition, women have been advocating more for their rights and bringing more awareness to the issue.

Ness and the National Partnership say real change will require changes in laws.  It’s an approach that’s worked in the Nordic countries where the gender wage gap no longer exist. 

Since 2006, Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Iceland have held the top spots in the World Economic Forum report on the wage gap in 153 countries. 



What are these countries doing that others aren’t?  First, they elect more women.  Three out of these four country’s prime ministers are women and all four rank high in female political empowerment. 

“For a long time in our law, you have to have at least 40% of either men or women in the elected bodies,” said Finish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, who at 34 is the world’s youngest prime minister.

So why does this matter?  Well, there’s evidence that women in political leadership roles will champion issues that help close the gender gap, like equal pay and parental leave. 

In America, said Ness, women are stuck tolerating “a culture that doesn’t require policies that support family caregiving or fair treatment of pregnant workers,” said Ness. 

Just months after Marin was elected, Finland passed a new law that increased paid leave for both parents to a combined 14 months and Iceland took a big step towards closing its pay gap by passing a law that requires companies to prove that they pay men and women equally.  That’s a big difference from countries like the U.S. where equal pay laws put the burden of proof on employees, requiring them to file a claim against their employers.

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