Report urges wage equality, more opportunities for working women in Massachusetts

Career Associated Press

A task force outlined recommendations on Friday for achieving wage equality between men and women and creating more leadership opportunities for women in the corporate world.

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In its report, the "Successful Women, Successful Families" task force established by Gov. Deval Patrick found that despite recent gains, women still earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men in Massachusetts — amounting to a $12.2 billion wage gap.

Women also hold less than 14 percent of the seats on boards of directors of the state's 100 largest companies, according to the report, even though they make up nearly half of the state's total workforce.

Among the task force's recommendations, outlined at the Center for Women in Business at Bentley University in Waltham, is to work with the state education department to identify patterns in the types of courses being selected by girls in high school. Based on those findings, the state would then develop strategies for encouraging more girls to take courses in science, math and technology to help prepare them for higher-paying careers.

The report also calls for more family-friendly corporate practices, including flexible work schedules and paid family leave for private sector workers.

Patrick on Friday announced that 14 large Massachusetts companies had agreed to participate in a corporate challenge to increase the percentages of women in their companies and serving on their boards.

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"If the Massachusetts economy is going to continue to thrive, employers must design a workplace that maximizes their talent and potential by eliminating the wage gap and focusing on family-oriented practices and benefits," Patrick said in a statement.