slides: Massachusetts Ranked #15 in Best States for Women
Monday, September 30, 2013
To see the numbers behind Massachusetts's ranking, see the slides, below.
The brand-new ranking, The State of Women in America, assessed 36 factors grouped under three main categories: Economic Security, Leadership, and Health. The role of women in the United States has changed dramatically over the past few decades," according to Anna Chu and Charles Posner, the report's authors. "For one, more and more women have taken on new responsibilities outside the home by joining the paid workforce." While women made up only about one-third of the workforce in 1969, they point out, women today make up almost half of all workers in the United States.
"Women are also stepping up to lead the country," Chu and Posner say. Nationally, "a record number of women ran for public office in 2012, and a record-high percentage of women are serving in Congress." In addition to making progress on issues of economics and leadership, "women have made progress on health issues, which impact women’s personal well-being, as well as their economic security. Over the past few years, women have been able to end gender discrimination by big insurance companies and gain free contraception coverage because of the Affordable Care Act."
In Central MA: Developing the next generation of women leaders
In Central Massachusetts, the Women's Initiative of the United Way sees the challenge for developing leadership locally on these very issues crucial, and places key focus on developing those leaders young. "Opportunities to invest in young women’s leadership is essential to social change now and in the future," said Jennifer Potts. Communications Director for the United Way of Central Massachusetts. On September 18, the Women's Initiative held its annual Stepping Up For Girls event in support of its youth initiatives. Fitchburg Mayor Lisa Wong, another example of rising women's political leadership on the municipal level, gave the keynote address on women's leadership and philanthrophy.
Gender gaps nationally and in Massachusetts
But, as the study's results point out, substantial inequalities remain. Although an increasing number of women are either the sole breadwinner for their family or share the role with their partners, women in the United States are paid only 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. (In Massachusetts, the rate is slightly higher than the national average--at 77 cents on the dollar). The pay gap is even larger for women of color. On average, African American women make 64 cents for every dollar that white men make, and in Massachusetts that number is even lower--60 cents on the dollar.
"While 2012 was a watershed year for women in terms of getting elected to public office, women still comprise only 18.1 percent of Congress, despite making up more than half of the U.S. population," according to Chu and Posner. "They also face challenges on health issues, as 2012 saw continued conservative efforts to erode women’s ability to make their own decisions about their health and well-being." In Massachusetts, women fared best on the national rankings in the areas of Health, placing #6 in the nation.
"In the wake of the dramatic election year [of 2012], the sense of angry challenge and the promise of something new have faded, and many women are left feeling that all the 'woman' talk has proven hollow," said Judith Warner, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. "They have seen themselves proclaimed the 'winners' of our current economy— while watching their male colleagues outearn them at all ages and in all fields. They have been passed over for promotions, and know they are looked down upon professionally—no matter how well, how much, or how hard they work— if they make a visible priority of taking time to care for their kids."
They are stressed and stretched to the full extent of their capabilities, Warner said, "working hard and doing as much as they can as the primary caretakers in their families—and yet still feel as if they are not spending enough time with their loved ones. They are not earning enough or saving enough. They are scared about paying for health care, college, and—above all—retirement. And as breadwinners responsible for their family’s economic security, they are tired of hearing their challenges narrowed down to “women’s issues”—for they know these problems deeply affect all the people who matter most in their lives."
Where does Massachusetts sit in this uneven landscape for American women?
Massachusetts: Bottom half of New England
As the data and slides below show, performance on the study's various factors varied widely, with the Bay State's best performance on Health-related factors being balanced by a dismal ranking on Economic Security. In Leadership, where the state received a B grade and placed a decent #14 nationwide, the picture is equally inconsistent. Consider the high-profile victory of Elizabeth Warren, but contast it with the fact that the state's percentage of women in State Legislature is only 25.5%, ranking #22 nationwide.
Overall, Massachusetts ranked #4 among the New England states. It fell behind Vermont, which placed #3 in the nation for women, and Connecticut, which placed #6. Rhode Island nudged ahead of Massachusetts in the ranking, taking the #14 spot. Falling behind the Bay State was New Hampshire at #18 and Maine at #20.
To see how Massachusetts fared on subcategory rankings of Economic Security, Leadership, and Health, see the slides below.
Women Earning Power
Overall Amount Made For Every Dollar White Man Makes: $0.79
Amount Made by African American Woman: $0.60
Amount Made by Hispanic Woman: $0.51
Calculations for overall amount based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey (U.S. Department of Commerce, 2013).Calculations for African American and Hispanic Women based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 American Community Survey
Percentage of total female population that would be affected by raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour:
Total Number of Women Affected: 301,000
Percentage That Are Women: 58.6%
Economic Policy Institute, “Characteristics of workers who would be affected by increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 by July 1, 2015” (2013).
Women in Public Office
Percentage of US Congress: 18.2%
Percentage of Statewide Executive Seats: 33.3%
Percentage of State Legislature Seats: 25.5%
Percentage of All Seats Held By Minority Women: 2.3%
Women in Congress, Statewide Executive Seats, State Legislature from Center for American Women and Politics, “State by State Information;" Minority Women in office from Center for American Women and Politics, “Facts on Women of Color in Elective Office.”
Percentage for Women Overall: 40.75%
Percentage for Women Among African Americans: 49.54%
Percentage for Women Among Hispanics: 47.24%
Percentage for Women Among Asian Americans: 40.81%
Percentage for Women Among Native Americans: 44.01%
U.S. Census Bureau, “American FactFinder."
State Laws/Women's Health
Laws to Strip Public Funding for Reproductive Health Care Providers: No
% of Need for Publicly Funded Contraceptive Services Met by Publicly Supported Providers: 30%
Laws Requiring Forced Ultrasounds: None
Unconstitutional Limits on Abortion: 27 weeks
Number of Mandatory Waiting Period and Counseling Restrictions: 1
Targeted Restrictions on Abortion Providers ("TRAP" Laws): No
Guttmacher Institute, “Laws Affecting Reproductive Health and Rights: State Trends at Midyear, 2013;” Percent of contraceptive needs met from Jennifer J. Frost, Mia R. Zolna, and Lori Frohwirth, “Table 6.” In “Contraceptive Needs and Services, 2010” (New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2013); Forced Ultrasound Provisions from Guttmacher Institute, “Requirements for Ultrasound” (2013); Limits on Abortions from Guttmacher Institute, “State Policies on Later Abortions” (2013); Restrictive waiting period + counseling provisions from Guttmacher Institute, “Counseling and Waiting Periods for Abortion” (2013); TRAP laws from Guttmacher Institute, “Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers” (2013).
Uninsured Non-Elderly Women Overall: 4.0%
Uninsured Non-Elderly African American Women: 5.7%
Uninsured Non-Elderly Hispanic Women: 7.8%
Medicaid Expansion: Moving forward
U.S. Census Bureau, “Model-based Small Area Health Insurance Estimates (SAHIE) for Counties and States,” Medicaid Expansion status from Kaiser Family Foundation, “Status of State Action on the Medicaid Expansion Decision, as of September 3, 2013."
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