By KOREY WILSON
STAMFORD — Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman is traveling around the state meeting with women entrepreneurs and professionals to speak about the challenges they face.
On Tuesday, Wyman met with a crowded room of female professionals for a roundtable discussion at the Women’s Business Development Center in Stamford.
The event was the second in a series of roundtable discussions that the lieutenant governor is hosting throughout the state on issues facing women in Connecticut.
The discussions were spawned by a 26-page report on statewide gender wage gaps, released in November.
The report, compiled by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s Gender Wage Gap Task Force, found that the average woman in Connecticut earns about 78 cents for every dollar a man makes.
The report further breaks down disproportionate salaries between men and women in a variety of industries.
“The governor asked a group of women to get together and talk about what’s going on with women in the workplace,” said Wyman.
The group leading the discussion includes Wyman, Commissioner of Labor Sharon Palmer, Department of Economic and Community Development Director Catherine Smith and Teresa Younger, executive director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women.
“We talk about some of the unconscious biases that (are) out there now. What we see is every time a woman goes to get a promotion, does she get a same promotion that a man would get?” said Wyman.
Wyman said women are often denied opportunities in the workplace because they have children at home.
“They never say that about a man, where they have to worry about him because he has kids at home. They don’t do it as a nasty thing but it’s really just an unconscious bias.”
Aside from unconscious biases, the report states other contributing factors to the state’s gender gap are lower starting salaries, slower career advancement, occupational segregation and lack of support for working families.
“Last year, we spent six to nine months working on the wage gap report. Everything we did in the report is completely data driven,” said Younger.
“More women are living in poverty at the end of our lives because we live longer than men and the battles we faced at (ages) 22, 32, 42 when the wage gap came into play,” said Younger.
Younger said the wage gap contributes lost wages ranging between $500,000 and $1 million over a woman’s lifetime.
Deborah Williams, founder of Her Game 2, a Stamford-based clothing line, mentioned at Tuesday’s meeting the challenges she faces when it comes to securing capital for her business.
Wyman said there are state programs specifically for women but the state has not advertised the programs in some cases.
The lieutenant governor said she plans to implement more advertising for funding programs when she returns to the state capitol.
Last month, Wyman held a discussion in East Hartford on women seeking career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math, otherwise known as the STEM disciplines.
Other organizations are also working to get women involved in science, technology, engineering and math at a young age, including General Electric, Stamford Public Schools and the University of Connecticut.
Issues in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — fields are well documented.
In 2011, the Deparment of Commerce projected 17 percent growth in those fields by 2018, while advocacy groups like the Partnership for a New American Economy project a shortage of STEM-ready workers.
And if there is a shortage, it likely will not be filled by girls. Shilpa Banerjee, program coordinator at GE and the company’s CIO for corporate systems, told The Stamford Times in a July interview that while 74 percent of middle school girls show an interest in STEM fields, by college that number drops to 3 percent.
“We really want to change that ratio,” she said.
Wyman’s next roundtable discussion was scheduled to be held Thursday in Norwich on minimum wages and unionization and other issues impacting women’s economic security.