Informing policy. Inspiring change. Improving lives.
1200 18th Street NW, Suite 301
Washington, DC 20036
202 785-5100

About the Project

IWPR’s "Status of Women" reports are a unique source of comprehensive information on women. Since 1996, IWPR has analyzed data on a wide range of indicators at the local, state, national, and international levels, including demographics, economic security, education, reproductive rights, political participation, civic engagement, and access to health care and work supports. IWPR has released reports on each U.S. state and the District of Columbia, several city/area reports, and a series of reports and a toolkit on women in the Middle East and North Africa. Each report offers policy recommendations shaped by the research findings for that state or city/area. Recent state-level reports include The Status of Women & Girls in Colorado, The Status of Women in North Carolina, The Status of Women & Girls in West Virginia, and the 2010 Portrait of Women & Girls in the Washington Metropolitan Area. State and federal policymakers, journalists, advocates, and community leaders have used the reports for nearly two decades to make the case for improved public policies for women and families.

Informing Policy: Providing the Data Agents of Change Need

IWPR’s Status of Women research provides data that change agents can use to improve the status of women, which is integral to strengthening economic growth and prosperity for local communities and the nation as a whole. Women’s status in the United States consistently lags behind men’s; despite some progress in recent decades, women earn less than men, experience higher poverty rates than their male counterparts, face specific adverse health conditions, and remain underrepresented in political office across the nation. While these disparities have an impact on all women, certain population groups—including women of color, low-income women, recent immigrants, and women living in rural and inner city areas—are disproportionately affected.

The disparities women face in the United States undermine women’s rights, economic security, personal safety, and health. Data on women’s standing across a range of issue areas are essential to elevating women’s status and promoting the overall well-being of women, families, communities, and society. Advocates, policymakers, and other leaders need reliable information about the status of women to push for policy changes in a variety of ways, including through legislative action, advocacy and outreach, educational initiatives, institution-building, grantmaking, and coalition-building.

Inspiring Change: Creating Tools They Can Use

Upcoming Reports and Fact Sheets
In November 2013, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) launched new work on its Status of Women in the States project. With support from the Ford Foundation, IWPR will develop a national report on the status of women, a report on the status of women in the U.S. South, and a fact sheet on the status of women in each of the 50 states and District of Columbia. The reports are developed in partnership with an expert advisory committee and will explore topics that profoundly affect women across the nation: employment, education, and earnings; economic security and poverty; health and well-being; reproductive rights; violence and safety; and political participation and leadership. Where possible, the reports will provide disaggregated data to explore how contextual factors such as gender, race/ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, and residence (whether in a metropolitan or nonmetropolitan area) correlate with higher or lower status on indicators such as median earnings, the gender wage gap, poverty, educational attainment, and access to health insurance coverage. Other Status of Women in the States products underway include studies on the status of women in Utah and Connecticut, produced in partnership with the YWCA Utah and Permanent Commission on the Status of Women.

IWPR will develop its status of women in the states website to include interactive charts and maps and other data visualizations that make the findings more user-friendly, communicating information about the status of women in an engaging and succinct way. The website will also provide raw, downloadable data for researchers, journalists, and policymakers to use in their work.

Improving Lives: Influencing Lasting Policy Change

IWPR’s Status of Women in the States reports have made the case for millions of dollars in additional state and local funding across the United States and have reinvigorated, strengthened, or led to the creation of organizations, councils, or task forces on women in more than 15 states. A few representative examples of the many outcomes of this project include:

      In 2005, women leaders in Wisconsin formed the nonprofit organization, “Wisconsin Women Equal Prosperity,” in response to IWPR findings in a 2004 report, The Status of Women in Wisconsin. Since its creation, WW=P has helped elect women to local governments, held workshops on domestic violence and employer best practices, and prepared topical primers to be used by advocates throughout the state.
      In 2008, the Arizona Foundation for Women informed critical state budget decisions using findings from IWPR’s Economic Status of Women in Arizona. In particular, the state received an additional $6 million in domestic violence shelter funding and $9 million for child care subsidy rate increases over two budget sessions. More than six legislators quoted the report in their policymaking efforts. In addition, Arizona’s Fresh Start Women’s Foundation created an HIV program targeting black women based on findings from the same report.
      In 2013, The Women’s Foundation of Colorado used findings from the recently released Status of Women and Girls in Colorado to raise awareness among policymakers, journalists, community leaders, and other stakeholders of the challenges facing women and girls in the state. The research garnered considerable media attention and served as the basis for a series of dynamic community discussions about women’s status across Colorado that engaged more than 400 individuals interested in working to implement positive changes.

      Advisory Committees

      National Advisory Committee

      Southern States Advisory Committee

        Get Involved

        IWPR has worked in collaboration with state and local organizations working for positive policy and social change in their communities for over 25 years. Currently, IWPR is inviting organizations to join the Status of Women State Partner Council, a group of project partners and funders from across the country, by sponsoring IWPR’s research on the status of women in the states. Sponsors will receive special acknowledgement in IWPR’s 2015 national report on the status of women, in a fact sheet for their state, and in a state press release, alongside the Ford Foundation. Sponsors' organizational logo and web link will also be listed on the project's website. If you would like to receive more information about the project or additional ways to get involved, please contact Study Director Cynthia Hess at


        Media Contact and Experts

        To interview one of IWPR’s experts or for other media questions, please contact Jennifer Clark

        Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D.

        Cynthia Hess, Ph.D.
        Study Director

        Ariane Hegewisch
        Study Director

        Barbara Gault, Ph.D.
        Vice President and Executive Director

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