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Milward Simpson, Thyra Thomson, and Nellie Tayloe Ross, 1972.

Photo: Thyra Thomson, Nellie Tayloe Ross, and Milward Simpson at the Yellowstone Park Centennial Celebration, 1972. Thyra Thomson papers.

Secretary Thomson visiting classroom of Liz Byrd, 1960.

Photo: Secretary Thomson visiting the classroom of future legislator, Liz Byrd, circa 1960. Thyra Thomson papers.

From the late nineteenth century through the present, Wyoming’s leaders have been proud to refer to Wyoming as the Equality State. Throughout the twentieth century Nellie Tayloe Ross, Thyra Thomson, Liz Byrd, and countless other individuals challenged the contemporary understanding of equality in Wyoming.

Now, in the twenty-first century, the true meaning of equality is still being explored and debated in Wyoming, 150 years after it became the first state to grant full women’s suffrage. In 2007 Wyoming had the largest pay gap between male and female full-time workers in the United States, with women only making sixty-two cents for every dollar made by a man. A new generation of women leaders, such as State Representative Cathy Connolly, have made such continuing questions of equality topics of discussion and debate, in the State House and beyond. The people of Wyoming will likely always find reason to examine what it means to be The Equality State.

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