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Gender wage gap wider in Idaho than rest of America

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POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - The gender wage gap may seem like a relic of a distant past, but it's still very real for Idaho women.

Nationwide, women earned $789 a week, or 81.1 percent of men's weekly salary ($973), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics most recent data.

In Idaho, that gap widens. Women who work full-time earned $702, only 79.5 percent of Idaho men's $883 weekly earnings.

Part of the problem is that women don't negotiate enough, according to the American Association of University Women (AAUW).

A study of graduating MBA students found that while half of the men had negotiated their job offers, only one eighth of the women did.

Ann Swanson, regional director for the Small Business Development Center and Idaho State University professor, sees this trend too.

“Men will start their careers negotiating and women won’t always do that. So (women) start at a disadvantage and lower rate than men and that never catches up," Swanson said.

Not negotiating a fair salary can cost women big.

"Over a lifetime it can be over a million dollars of earnings that you lose just because you don’t start negotiating,” Swanson said.

Swanson took a course through the AAUW so she could teach her students how to negotiate better.

“I saw in my own life how friends of mine were being left behind, how students who were leaving the college weren’t prepared to go and negotiate with their first job. That’s really when this wage gap starts,” Swanson said.

Do your homework.

“Data really underpins all good salary negotiation,” Swanson said.

Document accomplishments and skills that you can use to highlight your worth, she said.

Then, find out what other people are paid for the same job. Salary transparency can help close the gender wage gap, the AAUW claims.

In federal and state jobs, which are required to publish salary ranges, the gender pay gap between men and women is significantly lower, according to the AAUW.

Swanson said that's because it provides men and women with tools to negotiate stronger.

The private sector doesn't require salary transparency, but Swanson said that shouldn't stop people from doing their research.

“There are a lot of really good websites, including salary.com which is one I recommend highly, because you can narrow a job to a zip code and they’ll give you a range for what the salary should be for that position,” Swanson said.

Practice, practice, practice.

Swanson emphasizes practicing your negotiating salary. Get a friend to negotiate with you.

Make and use notes in practice and in negotiation. Start early.

“The best time to do a salary negotiation is when you already have the job because you already know they want you,” Swanson said.

If women start negotiating earlier, they'll have a much better chance at closing the wage gap, Swanson said.

“It’s not like suddenly you’re 35 and there’s a man in your office and you’re the women in the office doing the same job and somebody said ‘Hmm, I’m not going to pay them the same. She’s going to get 75 percent.’ It’s not a conscious decision,” Swanson said.

To view the full report from the BLS, click here.

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Emma Iannacone

Emma Iannacone

Emma is a reporter for Local News 8 and KIDK Eyewitness News 3.

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