Pay and gender

Jun 13, 2013 By Steven R. Peck

We're proud that it is not an issue in our business

This is the time of year when national attention is paid to the issue of equal pay on the job for men and women.

There is a law on the books that is now half a century old calling for equality in pay between the genders. Wage and salary discrepancy is not so great as it once was, but national statistics suggest that it remains striking.

Over the years we have lifted the lid from time to time on our own compensation schedule at Riverton Ranger Inc. It's a worthwhile exercise that every business ought to do (not for publication, mind you, but for information).

In June 2013, we can say with certainty that there is equalization -- and then some -- of pay in our business in job categories where a fair comparison can be made.

The two highest-paid people on our news staff are women. The highest paid person in our advertising department is a woman. Both departments have men as well, but matters of longevity and job responsibility are such that women happen to have the highest-paying positions now.

The head of our bookkeeping department is a woman, so she makes the most money. Our production department has three women right now, zero men, so the issue of gender equality doesn't apply there. The last time there was a man in that job, he was paid the same as the women, or less, depending on experience.

In our circulation and mailroom operation, the top management positions happen to be held by men at the moment, although that has not always been true. They are paid more, but the rank-and-file circulation and mailroom workers are paid equally, regardless of gender. Again, whatever discrepancies there are come about because of longevity or job duties.

Our pressroom has three employees --all men. Only once in 30 years has a woman even applied for a job in the press room. This gets to the heart of some of Wyoming's wage discrepancy. In an economy heavy on jobs tied to construction, agriculture, and energy production, there simply aren't that many female workers in the labor force. Were we to get a qualified female press operator on our payroll, her pay would be commensurate to a man in her position.

The Ranger was the first Wyoming daily newspaper to have a woman as its editor. We refer to the late Carolyn B. Tyler who held the post for 25 years. Since 1990, The Ranger's advertising director position has been held by a woman for 19 of the 23 years.

Top Ranger management is male and always has been. We are a family-owned business, and two brothers started the company in 1949. Four years later they merged with another newspaper business that also had been run by men since its inception in 1906.

The only daughter born to the first generation of Ranger management chose 40 years ago not to enter the business.

A chart filled with statistics can be misleading, and it is not entirely fair to criticize Wyoming's overall employment picture as discriminatory against women when it comes to wages. There are, no doubt, still some employers who pay men more than women for the same jobs, but they probably are more rare than the raw statistics would suggest. Using our newspaper business as an example, it likely could be argued that wages these days have more to do with individuals, performance, seniority, and responsibility than they do with X or Y chromosomes.

At least, that's the way it is in our company. It ought to be the same everywhere if we are to merit our nickname -- the Equality State.

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