Montana Ethic Project: On equal pay for equal work


Joey and Libbie Early

Franke Wilmer, a former state representative, talks about “Gender Equity” in this chapter of “The Montana Ethic Project.”

This is the third chapter of the 32-part video series “The Montana Ethic Project.” This chapter features Franke Wilmer, a former state representative, former chair of the Montana Human Rights Commission and a political science professor at Montana State University, speaking on “Gender Equity.” You can watch the whole video below. Here is how it opens:

“I have worked on human rights for the last 20 years at Montana State University and have also chaired the Montana Human Rights Commission. It’s what got me interested in public service full time. …  I want to talk about something I’ve worked on more recently, that is women’s rights more broadly, in particular the equal pay for equal work issue, which has been on the public policy agenda, both federally and locally, since 1963 when President Kennedy signed into law the first equal pay act.”

Here is another, edited excerpt from Wilmer’s presentation: 

“It’s important because in 60 percent of Montana families, 31 percent are headed by women, 27 percent depend on a woman’s income, so about 60 percent of Montana families depend on the income earned by women. If they’re not being paid fairly, the families are not receiving the income that they should equitably receive. They’re being deprived of income they should be earning, that one of the family members, one of the parents, should be earning.

“And everything about the family’s condition, from prospects to being able to pay their children’s tuition to college to being able to afford health insurance, is being affected by that pay loss. Nationwide, women are paid about 77 percent of what men make, which means about 77 cents of the dollar. About 23 percent of income women are being deprived of. Montana, unfortunately, is a little bit lower—70 percent. And for Native American women, we have a 6 percent Native American population, and for Native American women providing for their families its 58 percent.

“So they make 58 cents of the dollar for the same work.”

PERC_Logo_MontanaEthicPERC—the Property & Environment Research Center—is a proud sponsor of the Montana Ethic Project. To learn how PERC’s ideas can help us honor one another’s rights to land, water, and wildlife, visit


First week: Project introduction.

Second week: Richard Drake on “Terrorism and the Consolation of History.”

Third week: Mike Gear on “The Value of Athletics.”

Next week: Gordon Brittan on “The Founding Fathers.”


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