Miriam Riner says she felt betrayed when she found out she was earning $5,000 a year less than a less experienced, male counterpart was receiving to do the same job.
Riner, a researcher at the University of Hawaii, said her efforts to get a raise were rebuffed for more than a year -- even though her bosses acknowledged that she's underpaid.
"One of the most frustrating parts this is that no one is arguing that there's a pay inequity between this new male hire and a more experienced female," she said.
"No one is arguing that it should be fixed. But no one is fixing it."
Riner is hardly the exception. A recent Congressional study shows that women in general earn nearly 18 percent less than their male counterparts in Hawaii.
The gap is even more pronounced -- more than 25 percent -- for women fifty years or older.
Hawaii's pay gap is a big reason why U.S. Mazie Hirono says she supports national legislation known as the Paycheck Fairness Act, which will make it harder for employers to discriminate against women.
"We have a high cost of living so it's even more important that the women working so hard in Hawaii are making the same pay for the same job," Hirono.
Local attorney Susan Ichinose says the pay gap between men and women has narrowed in recent years but the problem still persists at entry level and mid-management jobs.
"We have always classified women's jobs as lesser paying because we've considered women less qualified than men. but that really is no longer true," Ichinose.
The Paycheck Fairness Act would place the burden on employers to prove than any pay inequities are not based on gender alone. Hirono says this would help women like Riner avoid lengthy pay disputes with their employers.