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WCC Trustees Should Demand Action to Close Wage Gap

Every year, usually sometime in March, the media calls out “Equal Pay Day.” It notes the amount of extra time women must work to close the wage gap from the previous year. According to the US Census Bureau, in 2022 among full-time workers, women earned $0.84 for every $1 that men earned.

Wage gaps at the state level exist as well. Unfortunately, in Michigan, women earn $0.80 for every $1 that men earn. Michigan is one of those states where the gap is more profound than it is on the national level. To give you an idea of where the wage differential for women is highest, women in Utah make just $0.73 on the dollar. Women in Louisiana, Alabama, New Hampshire and Idaho make between $0.74-$0.75 on the dollar. Those are the five states in which women are paid the least.

Seventeen states (one-third) occupy the lowest tier of pay rates for women, but only four of these states are in the deep south. The majority of low-wage states are actually in the Midwest, with a smattering in the West. Indiana is the only Great Lakes state where women don’t make at least $0.80 on the dollar.

Thirty-three states occupy the middle ground, where women are paid between $0.80 and $0.90 for every dollar that men earn. If you’re doing the math, you will note that I have accounted for all the states. Exactly no states occupy the top tier, where women earn 91% or more of what men earn for the same work. The tier itself is not mythical – it exists. It just happens to be empty, as it has always been.

WCC’s female leadership doesn’t benefit female students or close the wage gap

It is interesting, therefore, that our local community college, whose executive ranks are occupied largely by women, and whose Board of Trustees seats are occupied by a majority of women, have done virtually nothing to ensure that female students – who comprise the majority of the enrollment – have academic program options that will enable them to earn more than $0.80 for every $1 that their male classmates earn.

This environment has been in place for more than a decade. It is sad that the Board of Trustees, who patted themselves on the back for their performative hiring of WCC’s first female president, went back to sleep. Since 2011, they have not insisted that their trophy hire do something to improve the income status of women in Washtenaw County. I’m pretty sure the only income she’s focused on improving has been her own.

It is beyond time for the Board of Trustees to publish the metrics by which they measure this administration and the methodology they have used to determine the executive’s salary. Her tenure has not resulted in the development of high-wage academic programs, or strategies that increase the earning potential for WCC’s female students.

WCC’s female students (and all of Washtenaw County) deserve better.

Photo Credit: UN Women, via Flickr