FLINT, Michigan (WJRT) - (04/02/2019) - Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared Tuesday "Equal Pay Day" to raise awareness about the gender pay gap.
The governor says this is not only a women's issue.
She called an economic issue that is hurting hardworking families in our state.
Women in Michigan make 78 cents for every dollar paid to men--the gap is widest for women of color.
We attended an 'Equal Pay Day' event hosted by UM Flint where we heard some powerful stories from well educated women right here in our community about how gender bias has impacted them in the workplace.
It's called the 'name game' --participants reflect on 'Gender Bias' by asking others to write their name in one of nine boxes describing a scenario they've experienced at some point in their work life.
"I'm filling in the fact that I've been expected, as a woman, to carry heavy loads of service work," said Heather Johnson, the Director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality at UM Flint.
"Because I don't have a child, even though I have a partner and a mother, who I also care for, they just expect me to stay late or come earlier," she explained.
Participant Sarah Devitt shared which box she filled in during this interactive exercise.
"I filled out the 'I'm reluctant to negotiate something'," she noted, "I feel like my worth is valued, and that the work I do is valuable and I should negotiate the things I want, but I don't want to come off as 'too pushy."
Mia Medal is the President of the U of M Flint chapter of Latinos United for Advancement, or LUNA.
We asked her which scenario involving gender bias she could identify with.
"I put in 'have I ever experienced a bias because of my gender and race? Absolutely," she replied.
Medal shared a conversation she says she had with a receptionist while visiting a Primary Care office for a job interview.
"Are you here for the position for housekeeping?," she says she was asked. She replied, "'No I'm here for the assistant position."
Statistics from the National Partnership for Women and Families indicate the pay gap is wider for women of color:
Black women are paid 63 cents for every dollar and
Latina women earn just 57 cents for every dollar paid to white,
Only Asian women come close to being on par with men in regards to equal pay.
"A lot of us we know the experience, we've lived the experience, and we're living the experience so it's not a surprise for us," said Jenee Price, the Project Leader for Flint Truth and Action Partnership Project and University Outreach at U of M Flint.
"When you have a lot of single working mothers, and if they can barely afford to take care of their own children, how do you expect our economy to progress," she asked.
Price believes this is really a policy issue, and that more men need to get involved to help close the gap