BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — “Over 105,000 of Western New York households and 42% of New York state depend on mother’s earnings,” said Sheri Scavone, WNY Women’s Foundation Executive Director.

Leaders spoke before a panel at Buffalo City Hall about the cause and impact of the gender pay gap in Western New York. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul was among those who heard testimony.

“In Buffalo the average white woman working full time will earn 73% of what her male counterparts are paid,” said Scavone.

The wage gap is even wider for African American women and latinas.

“Women are clustered around lower paying jobs and I think there’s a correlation to women that have children. Women are penalized for having children and raising children,” said Karen King, Erie County Commission on the Status of Women Executive Director.

According to statistics, working mothers are paid less than both non-mothers and men. Even women in higher paying fields still tend to make less than men do.

“In Western New York female physicians earn 71% of what male physicians do,” said Scavone.

Leaders say a number of factors play a role in the pay gap, including being over-represented in low wage jobs and taking time out of the workforce to raise children.

Though steps are being taken to to close the gap, progress is slow.

“Statewide we’re still waiting to hear on passage of a pay history bill that was passed in the house but is stalled in the senate but we’re hopeful that it will move forward,” said King.

Similar pay equity hearings are also being held in New York City and Syracuse.

By the end of the year Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon will submit policy recommendations to close the wage gap in the state.

For more facts on women in Erie County, go to: http://www2.erie.gov/csw/index.php?q=facts-about-women-erie-county