Women still have a long way to go in the business world - pay equity and sexual harassment are among the major snags, a Boise survey reveals.
"Equal pay for equal work stood out as the primary issue of concern among this group of respondents, who are high-achieving women," said Betsy Dunklin, director of the Idaho Women's Network, which conducted the survey.The survey, given to 223 women and 16 men attending the YWCA's "Perspectives" conference in Boise on Tuesday, will be used to develop a scientific statewide review, Dunklin said.
Dunklin said about half the respondents thought men at their companies were paid more for the same work, while 92 percent felt women are as qualified as their male counterparts.
"It was disappointing to find that, more than 25 years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act and other laws prohibiting pay discrimination based on gender, so many people feel that women are paid less than men for the same work," said Marilyn Shuler, executive director of the Idaho Human Rights Commission.
And that perception of pay inequity is supported by Department of Employment statistics that show women earn 65 percent of men's average hourly wages, Shuler said.
Of the 294 formal complaints of workplace discrimination filed with the commission during fiscal 1990, Shuler said 45 percent involved prejudice due to gender.
Dunklin said the survey was not scientifically administered, in that it does not represent a cross sample of Idahoans.
The Women's Network would like to raise the $10,000 needed to randomly sample some 800 working women statewide.
Dunklin said the women's advocacy group, in conjunction with the Idaho Human Rights Commission, would use the scientific review to demonstrate the need to amend Idaho's discrimination laws.
Idaho statutes exclude companies with 10 or fewer employees from any investigations into complaints of discrimination. Their workers have no legal recourse, in the courts or with the Idaho Human Rights Commission, to protect themselves, Shuler said.
About 18 percent of Idaho's 462,000-person work force is employed by concerns with 10 or fewer people, according to Idaho Department of Employment statistics.
In Tuesday's survey, 27 percent of the respondents indicated they had personally experienced sexual harassment on the job. Dunklin said she expects those figures might come out higher in a statewide survey of women on all levels of the work force.
Of the group surveyed Tuesday, 86 percent said they held management or professional positions.
"One would hope that among a group of managers, they might be more powerful in thwarting such actions," Shuler said.