Gov. Steve Bullock today announced $25,000 in grant funding to support a series of workshops that will equip women with the skills and strategies to negotiate salaries and benefits and promote equal pay in Montana.

“The gender wage gap means some Montana women have fewer resources to support their families, invest in the future, or afford goods and services that would benefit our economy,” Governor Bullock said. “Wage negotiation workshops offer women the tools and confidence they need to negotiate for fair pay, and in turn, shrinks the wage gap to benefit Montana families, businesses, and the economy.”

Grant funding will allow the American Association of University Women to host two different workshops over the next 18 months. Start Smart is a wage negotiation workshop designed to teach women entering the workforce for the first time how to negotiate salaries and benefits for a new job. Work Smart is a wage negotiation workshop designed to teach women already in the work force how to negotiate salaries and benefits for a new job, raise or promotion.

“We are excited to partner with the state to provide this opportunity for Montana women,” said Jesse Kunz of AAUW of Montana. “We all share the same goal of advancing equality for women and girls.”

Workshops are supported by a $25,000 federal grant the Department of Public Health and Human Services awarded to AAUW-Montana from the Rape Prevention and Education grant. The RPE grant is a 5-year, $2.5 million grant with several focus areas, including one to provide opportunities to empower and support girls and women. The $25,000 federal grant will pay for the licensing fee required to utilize the two-hour workshops.

RPE grant has three additional focus areas, including: promote socials norms that protect against violence, teach skills to prevent sexual violence, and create protective environments.

Studies show that in relationships with intimate partner violence, abusers can maintain more control over victims who are financially insecure. If women are provided skills and knowledge to be financially independent, they could be less likely to have abusive partners.

“These workshops are part of a larger effort to foster opportunities for women and girls to strengthen their education, employment, and income to reduce sexual violence,” Sheila Hogan, director at the Department of Health and Human Services, said.

RPE grant also provides:

$137,000 for domestic and sexual violence services in Carbon County to provide Power Up Speak Out curriculum trainings, technical assistance, and site visits to 30 middle schools implementing the program. This program provides a toolkit for educators that encourages middle school students to think critically about healthy relationships, boundaries and consent.

$90,000 to Carroll College, Flathead Valley Community College, Helena College, MSU Billings, MSU Northern, Montana Tech, Rocky Mountain College, Salish Kootenai College, and UM Western to provide sexual violence primary prevention activities including bystander education to college-aged populations.

$30,000 to 30 middle schools to participate in evaluation of the Power Up Speak Out sexual violence prevention curriculum.

The first in a series of Work Smart workshops were held today in Helena during the Great Beginnings, Great Families Conference at the Delta Hotels by Marriott Helena Colonial. A total of 15 will be held over the next 18 months. AAUW-MT will post information about scheduled trainings on their website.

Today Montana women earn 73 percent of what men earn, resulting in a 27 percent gender wage gap. Six years ago, in 2013, Montana women were earning 67 percent of what men earn. Research shows women negotiate wages less frequently than men, which is one factor contributing to the wage gap.

In 2013 Gov. Steve Bullock established the Equal Pay for Equal Work Task Force in order to gather information, furnish advice and provide the governor recommendations on policies and action to ensure Montana workers earn equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender. The Equal Pay for Equal Work Task Force identified Wage Negotiation as a top area of focus to combat the gender pay gap. In June, Governor Bullock, along with the Equal Pay for Equal Work Task Force, launched a free wage negotiation webinar as another public resource available to Montanans.

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