VENTURA, Calif. -

Women are a vital part of our workforce, but they're not compensated for their work as well as men.

On Monday, U.S. Rep. Julia Brownley met with local business women to talk about ways to change that.  She visited four Ventura County businesses owned and operated by women in Ventura County.

“I want to learn. I am interested to know the women who are running small and large businesses in Ventura County.  I want to be aware of their issues," said Brownley.

Even though it is 2014, gender inequality is a big issue in the workplace.  The White House reports that on average women only make 77 cents to every dollar a man earns for doing the same job.

“That is about three more months of additional work to get to the same amount of income. That's just unacceptable in my mind,” said Brownley.

According to the U.S. census data, by the time a woman is 65 she will have lost close to half-a-million dollars over her working lifetime as a result of the earnings gap.

Some local women are changing this by being business leaders and owning their own companies.

One of those companies is The Refill Shoppe in downtown Ventura.  A eco-friendly store that lets you refill bottles with bath and body goods like lotion and shampoo.

“The refill shoppe came as a result of graduating from college and making a decision on what to do with one's life,” said shop owner Michelle Stevens.

Stevens opened her store in 2010.  She says her shop keeps growing every year.

“It is really great because the concept itself really does breed repeat business because we love getting to know the people in Ventura that come in and refill,” said Stevens.

“I am here to applaud women who have the courage and the initiative to go into business for themselves and I want to applaud their success," said Brownley.