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The Daily Tar Heel

North Carolina's pay gap less than two-thirds the national average, but minority women still struggle

According to a study by the National Partnership for Women and Families, North Carolina’s pay gap amounts to $6,376 annually, compared to the national $10,762.

Women in North Carolina lose an average of $9 billion per year, or a year’s worth of food for their families per woman, the study also found.

Minority women fare worse, with black women earning 64 cents and Latinas 48 cents to every white man’s dollar in North Carolina.

“You sometimes have that double whammy of having a racist environment as well as a sexist environment, so that’s part of our problem,” said Marena Groll, member of the Durham chapter of the National Organization for Women.

She said the results show North Carolina is struggling to adjust to this century.

“It is costly to our state to try and not do the morally correct thing, but it’s also costly to our state to not have these valuable workers in the system being paid fairly,” Groll said.

She said the reason the pay gap is still significant is because a great deal of the nation’s culture is “systematically sexist.”

At UNC, reviews of faculty salaries have been conducted to ascertain any gender wage inequalities, said Clare Counihan, program coordinator for faculty and staff at the Carolina Women’s Center, in an email. The Faculty Salary Equity report found in 2002 and 2012 that female faculty did have lower salaries in Academic Affairs, the School of Medicine and other health affairs, she said.

But she said it is difficult to determine whether UNC still has a significant pay gap because there are numerous factors considered in calculating faculty salary.

“The 2012 study recommended regular, periodic reviews of salaries to ensure that inequities don’t creep in over time, and this would do a great deal to protect against future gender-based salary gaps,” Counihan said.

Groll said she finds issues still remain in the larger scope of gender discrimination outside of UNC.

“Sex is not a protected class, like race is, so when we’re in a workplace and we’re experiencing sex discrimination we really don’t have the same strong constitutional grounds to pursue sex discrimination cases,” she said.

“We have to go ahead and put our big people pants on, we have to do the correct thing and say what the logical thing is — we have to pay a living wage, we just have to do it.”

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