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Eye On Boise

Idaho women make 74% as much as men, ranking state 43rd in nation…

Idaho ranks 43rd among the states for its gender pay gap, according to a new study from the American Association of University Women, which found that, based on 2010 federal data, the median pay for a full-time worker over age 16 in Idaho is $41,128 for men, but just $30,403 for women. That means Idaho women earn 74 percent as much as Idaho men; State Impact Idaho reports here that it's just the latest study highlighting Idaho's gender pay gap.

Neighboring Washington and Oregon ranked 27th and 28th, at 77 percent; while neighboring Utah and Montana fared even worse than Idaho in the study, with Montana ranking 46th at 73 percent and Utah 49th at 69 percent.

Interestingly, the Idaho Statesman recently highlighted a pay gap among top women in Gov. Butch Otter's administration, which Otter declined to discuss with the newspaper; their report found that Otter's female cabinet members earn 83 percent of what their male counterparts earn. I reported on a similar finding in June of 2010, when I found that of the 77 heads of Idaho state agencies under the Otter administration, 27 were women and 50 were men, and the average salary for the male agency heads was $109,658, while for the females it was $88,681. Otter said then that he would analyze the gap. "If there's inequities, then we oughta correct them where we can and as soon as we can." Click below to read my 2012 report.

Publication Date: June 27, 2010  Page: 1  Section: I  Zone: HandleX  Edition: 1 


Of the 77 heads of Idaho state agencies under the Otter administration, 27 are women and 50 are men. The average salary for the male agency heads: $109,658. For the females: $88,681.

Gov. Butch Otter, who last week held a "Women's Day in the Capitol" featuring 32 female officials from his administration, seemed surprised and pleased that so many of his agency heads are women. He furrowed his brow at the pay disparity, though.

"I think I would have to analyze that a lot deeper and a lot closer," Otter said. "I'm telling you this: If (state parks director) Nancy Merrill became the head of the Department of Corrections, she would get (prison chief) Brent Reinke's salary. ... If there's inequities, then we oughta correct them where we can and as soon as we can."

The figures come from The Spokesman-Review's analysis of state payroll records from the state controller's office, which include everything from college presidents (four men, one woman) to state tax commissioners (three men, one woman); and from the Department of Administration chief, Mike Gwartney, whose salary is zero, to Otter's three top female department heads, the heads of the departments of Agriculture, Environmental Quality and Parks. The figures are as of Jan. 7, 2010.

Of the 20 state departments that make up the state's executive branch, five are headed by women.

Idaho also is currently in the midst of a wrongful firing lawsuit from former Transportation Director Pam Lowe, whose claims include sex discrimination; she was replaced by a man who's being paid $22,000 more than she made.

In 2007, Otter made Idaho one of just two states in the nation with no women justices on its Supreme Court when he appointed Joel Horton to replace retiring Justice Linda Copple-Trout, the court's only woman justice at the time, passing over two female judges who were finalists for the post.

Otter said when it comes to judicial appointments, "I hope I'm color-blind, gender-blind - I hope I appointed what I believe to be the best-quality person, no matter what gender, no matter what race, no matter what religion, anything else. I just want the best person."

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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