Study: Women Far From Pay Equity; Wage Gap Wider in Southern States

According to a study recently released by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), women are still generations away from reaching full equality with men in the United States. The study, The Status of Women in the States, was released last Tuesday and rates the progress of women in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The report ranks the states according to 30 factors such as pay, education, health care, political participation, and mortality. The highest ranking states for women were Vermont, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Washington. The worst states for women were determined to be Mississippi, South Carolina, Kentucky, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. “At the rate things are changing, it’ll be 50 years before women’s paychecks equal men’s, and nearly a full century before women hold half the seats in Congress,” said Heidi Hartmann, economist and President and CEO of IWPR. Figures released by the US Census Bureau in August show that the pay gap between women and men widened in 2003. Women’s pay slumped for the first time since 1999, with women earning only 75.5 cents to every dollar men earn. The Census Bureau stated that this marks the first “statistically significant” decline in women’s pay since 1995. “Jobs that women do tend to be valued and paid less,” Hartmann said in the Washington Post, “Even when women work the same jobs as men, they will in fact experience discrimination in pay because of attitudes and expectations.” In October 2003, the General Accounting Office released a report titled “Women’s Earnings” that examined 18 years of data. The report found a 20 percent earnings gap between men and women that could not be explained, even after accounting for factors such as occupation, industry, marital status, and job tenure. Additionally, race plays a factor in the wage gap. African-American women make less than 63 cents for every dollar earned by white men. Hispanic women make just over half the salary of white men, according to IWPR. The report also demonstrated greater inequities between women and men in Southern states and “red states,” meaning states with a politically conservative majority. The study’s other notable findings include an increase in the number of female governors in the last decade and a decrease in women’s mortality as a result of suicide and breast cancer, reports Knight Ridder. However, eleven states have had an increase in the number of women living below the poverty line since 1995. JOIN the Feminist Majority


Institute for WomenÕs Policy Research 11/16/04; Washington Post 11/17/04; Scripps Howard News Service 11/17/04; Knight Ridder 11/17/04; Associated Press 11/16/04; Feminist Majority Daily Newswire 9/2/04

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