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Equal Pay Day Proclamation & Other Updates from a Whirlwind Trip to Cheyenne

Equal Pay Day Proclamation Signing L to R: Jenny Wilmetti (WCWI Board Chair), Governor Mark Gordon, Bekah Smith (WyWF ED), Tara Muir (WCADVSA Policy Director). Missing because she was still in the car driving: Jen Simon.

The Governor is taller that you expect him to be. I'm not sure why that is, you know he's a rancher and you also know that research (here, here, here, here, and here) shows that tall men are more likely to be in positions of power. Nonetheless, that's what stands out. Taller.

He was also incredibly gracious.

On Monday morning, I woke up at 3:45am. I promptly decided that 30 additional minutes of sleep was essential. For safety. Or something. So in the full dark and half sleep, I resolved that leaving for Cheyenne at 4:30am instead of 4:00am would be just fine. When I set out (late), I hoped that there would be less construction on I-80. (There wasn't.) Or that they would start the Proclamation Signing late. (They didn't.) So when they assembled to sign the Equal Pay Day Proclamation - at promptly 11am, or so I am told - I was winding my way through Cheyenne to get to 2323 Carey St. When I burst through the doors at that address and startled the secretary, she assured me that I had missed the signing.

And then the Governor himself appeared. He was taller than expected, but we've covered that already.

This is where his graciousness comes in.

He shook my hand, said he had heard that I was driving all the way down, was sorry I had missed the signing, thought that there were still some folks out back, that I should go be interviewed by the local news, and he stopped whatever he was walking toward to walk me back through the building, down some secret stairs, out the back door, over to the courtyard, and introduce me to several people. He took the time to chat about closing the gender wage gap as an economic development issue. He talked with me for more than a few minutes (still tall, he was tall the whole time, heels might have helped me out, but I was glad not to have to run down the street in Cheyenne in them so flats were just fine) and said he'd like to continue the conversation and offered up at least one conservative plan for a next step. He introduced Rep. Henderson who had come for the signing. He introduced the K2 TV reporter who then whisked me away to do an interview. After 7 hours alone in a car, I am probably just as happy that our WWAN team hasn't, so far, located any footage of said interview.

Fortunately for me, I spent the 10 minutes navigating through Cheyenne proper listening to Abby Wambach describe the reasons for gender pay equity and gender equality to Trevor Noah. She's an inspiring speaker. She prepared me well.

Except for failing to say that we should close the gender wage gap BECAUSE IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO, I covered the main points on camera: the wage gap is real, closing the gap is good for the economy, for Wyoming communities, for more than just women, that women don't earn as much as men even when we perform better. I said that there are simple steps we can take and, no, we are not taking them.

From there, I joined colleagues from the Wyoming Council for Women's Issues to meet with the Wyoming Business Council and invite them to adopt a gender lens to apply to their new strategic plan.

Then on to the Department of Workforce Services where we invited them to add the context of the Wyoming Women's Foundation (excellent) Self-Sufficiency Survey to any conversation about jobs and wages - and to foreground gender whenever appropriate.

After a couple more meetings (and a strange Cheyenne dinner), I headed home by way of Casper, where I had the chance to talk politics and gender with Nick Reynolds of the Casper Star Tribune. He's a great example of the kind of engaged, educated, ambitious newcomer that Wyoming needs to attract *and retain* if we're at all serious about not having to shutter the state in a few years. (If you're not already reading the CST and Nick's writing in particular, you should start.)

Our elected officials like to claim that "Wyoming is good for business" but if Wyoming were good for business, those businesses would be here. The truth is, the kinds of businesses that will sustain our state's future already care about issues like the gender wage gap. Employees of all ages, but especially those under 35 care about issues like the gender wage gap. They're not going to move to *and stay* in states where the policies make explicit that the state cares more about some people than others.

We need to change the conversation if we're going to change the policies. We made a little headway this week. Help us continue to turn the tide.

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