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Salaries for women still pale in comparison to salaries for men

Kim Borton addresses an audience Tuesday during the Women's Foundation luncheon at Bremer Bank in Willmar. Tribune photo by Jasmine Maki

WILLMAR -- All full-time working women still earn less than white men, according to the latest Status of Women and Girls in Minnesota report.

"White, African American and Latina women earn 80 cents, 64 cents and 56 cents on the dollar, respectively, compared to white men," said Debra Fitzpatrick, director of the Center on Women and Public Policy at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School and lead in the research project.

More than 35 people, predominantly women, attended the Women's Foundation luncheon Tuesday at Bremer Bank in Willmar to learn about the challenges women face. The event kicked off the third biennial Road to Equality Tour, which will visit eight Minnesota cities sharing the findings from the 2012 Status of Women and Girls in Minnesota.

The ongoing research project launched in 2009 is a collaborative effort of the Women's Foundation of Minnesota and the Center on Women and Public Policy. Data are gathered and analyzed annually.

Fitzpatrick at Tuesday's event presented the latest findings from four categories: economics, safety, health and leadership.

Among the status challenges women face is the wage gap, which Fitzpatrick said, "is one reason women and children are disproportionately the face of poverty."

The findings show that women make up the majority of the workforce, but the workforce still remains gendered with women dominating undervalued service, sales and office positions.

The wage gap is not only caused by job clustering, but also education, family situations, sexism and discrimination, Fitzpatrick said.

Kim Borton, director of programs for the Women's Foundation, encourages women to take a stand against the wage gap.

Women can do so by negotiating their wages; buying from women-owned, women-run businesses; and educating and encouraging girls to pursue careers in science.

Fitzpatrick also discussed the challenges women face with safety.

The findings show that 33 percent of Minnesota women will experience sexual violence by mid-life and those experiences lead to higher chances of prostitution, she said.

The MN Girls Are Not For Sale campaign, started in 2011 by the Women's Foundation, is working to solve this problem and end the prostitution of Minnesota girls.

The campaign identifies girls as victims not as criminals and provides opportunity for change, Borton said.

Fitzpatrick touched on several other issues including teen pregnancies and the lack of women leadership roles; and Borton talked about what is being done to solve those problems.

"The bottom line is that the perception is that we've achieved gender equality, but we still see disparities among young women," Fitzpatrick said. "There are still challenges and we need to be paying attention to those."

Discussion was cut short due to time restraints, but Borton and Fitzpatrick encouraged attendees to send feedback and keep in contact by email.

"We want to learn how our findings resonate with Willmar," Borton said.

For more information about the research findings, visit or contact Debra Fitzpatrick at 612-625-3409. For more information about the Women's Foundation, contact Kim Borton at 612-236-1819.