Guest Opinions

Idaho ranks last among states on conditions for working mothers. This must change.

Legislators and supporters watch as New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signs into law a measure to quash pay disparities between men and women who do the same work to strengthen New Jersey’s law against discrimination in April 2018.
Legislators and supporters watch as New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signs into law a measure to quash pay disparities between men and women who do the same work to strengthen New Jersey’s law against discrimination in April 2018. AP

It is shameful that a recent study ranked Idaho last among the states on conditions for working mothers. The study ranked the states on three broad areas: child care, professional opportunities and work-life balance. Idaho ranked dead last in child care. It did only slightly better (48th) in professional opportunities and it ranked 20th in work-life balance.

The category of professional opportunities included among other issues the gender pay gap, women’s median salary and the ratio of female to male executives. While nationally women earn on average 82 percent of what men earn, in Idaho that number is 76 percent. On average, women in Idaho earn about $11,000 a year less than men. Idaho was next to last among the states in its ratio of female to male executives.

Idaho also gets a grade of F from the National Partnership for Women and Families for its lack of adequate policies on family leave and from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research on women’s employment and earnings.

Even though more women than men vote, to date we heard few of the candidates publicly address any of these issues. In fact, the issue concerning women that seemed most pressing to a few of the candidates is whether to punish us for having abortions and, if so, whether we deserve the death penalty for a procedure that is legal.

In view of the findings of this study, the Southwest Idaho chapter of the National Organization for Women calls upon the Idaho Legislature to address these issues. At a minimum Idaho should ensure that women and men are paid the same for doing the same job, institute early childhood education and full-day kindergarten, and give working parents paid leave for childbirth, adoption or to care for a family member who is ill.

Mary Mosley, of Meridian, is president of Southwest Idaho chapter of NOW.

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