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The Status of Women and Girls

About the Status of Women and Girls

IWPR’s “Status of Women” reports are a unique source of comprehensive information on women. IWPR has analyzed data on a wide range of indicators at the local, state, national, and international levels, including demographics, economic security, educational attainment, reproductive rights, political participation, civic engagement, and access to health care and work supports. To date, IWPR has released reports on each U.S. state and the District of Columbia, in addition to 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.


The new Status of Women in the States website provides national and state-level data on women's progress in 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the United States overall. The site is an interactive tool for leaders and the public to access information at the state level. Find grades and rankings for each state on Political Participation, Employment & Earnings, Work & Family, Poverty & Opportunity, Reproductive Rights, and Health & Well-Being, plus national and state-level data on Violence & Safety. The site is also the most accessible, comprehensive source of state-level data on women of color in the United States.

State and Local Reports (1996-present)
The Status of Women in Your County: A Community Research Tool

Status of Women in the Middle East and North Africa

Visit our external resources page for links to more information on this topic.

To see our experts on this and other initiatives, click here.

Latest Reports from IWPR

Girls and Young Women of Color: Where They Are in the United States
by Emma Williams-Baron and Elyse Shaw, M.A. (October 2016)

Of the 14.1 million girls and young women of color, age 10–24, in the United States, 40.7 percent (5,748,760) live in the South, 23.2 percent in the Pacific West, 14.9 percent in the Northeast, 10.4 percent in East North Central, 7.3 percent in the Mountain West, and 3.5 percent in West North Central, as shown in Map 1.


Women of Color: Where They Are in the United States
by Emma Williams-Baron and Elyse Shaw, M.A. (October 2016)

Of the 42.3 million women of color, age 18 and older, in the United States, 41.5 percent (17,537,563) live in the South, 23.2 percent in the Pacific West, 16.3 percent in the Northeast, 9.8 percent in East North Central, 6.4 percent in the Mountain West, and 2.9 percent in West North Central.


Native American Women Saw the Largest Declines in Wages over the Last Decade among All Women
by Asha DuMonthier (September 2016)

Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) analysis of data from the American Community Survey finds that between 2004 and 2014, Native American women’s real median annual earnings for full-time, year-round work declined by 5.8 percent—more than three times as much as women’s earnings overall (Figure 1). Like Native American women, Black women and Hispanic women also saw their earnings fall substantially between 2004 and 2014, which includes the Great Recession and slow economic recovery (5.0 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively).


The Economic Impact of Equal Pay by State
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (February 2016)

Persistent earnings inequality for working women translates into lower lifetime pay for women, less income for families, and higher rates of poverty across the United States. In each state in the country, women experience lower earnings and higher poverty rates than men. The economic impact of this persistent pay inequality is far-reaching: if women in the United States received equal pay with comparable men, poverty for working women would be reduced by half and the U.S. economy would have added $482 billion (equivalent to 2.8 percent of 2014 GDP) to its economy. This fact sheet presents state-level data on the impact equal pay would have on poverty and each state’s economy.


Reproductive Health and Women’s Educational Attainment: Women’s Funds’ Strategies to Improve Outcomes for Women
by Lindsey Reichlin, M.A., and Justine Augeri, Ph.D. (October 2015)

This paper offers an overview of the significance and status of access to reproductive health rights and services in the United States today. It focuses particularly on how expanding access to family planning methods and information can improve young women’s prospects for economic security in adulthood, largely through access to education. In addition to addressing the need for reproductive services to promote women’s educational attainment, the report discusses how to support college students who already have children, and profiles the efforts of women’s funds to ensure access to services that promote reproductive health and allow low-income parents to attend and succeed at postsecondary education.


Unemployment Rate for Women and Men of Color Remains Higher Than for White Women and Men
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (September 2015)

According to the September employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Black women and men have the highest levels of unemployment, while whites have the lowest. In April 2009 unemployment peaked at 18.3 percent for Black men and remains high at 9.2 percent in August 2015. Black women fared somewhat better compared with Black men in the early recovery, but their unemployment rates have fallen more slowly than Black men’s and they are separated by slightly more 2 than one percentage point in the most recent employment data, 8.1 percent for Black women and 9.2 percent for Black men.


The Union Advantage for Women
by (August 2015)

This briefing paper presents an analysis of women’s union membership and the union wage and benefit advantage for women by state and by race/ethnicity. It is based on an analysis of the Current Population Survey. Wage and benefit data are for all workers covered by a union contract, irrespective of their membership in a union.


Get to the Bricks: The Experiences of Black Women from New Orleans Public Housing After Hurricane Katrina
by Jane Henrici, Ph.D., with Chandra Childers, Ph.D., and Elyse Shaw, M.A. (August 2015)

Get to the Bricks: The Experiences of Black Women from New Orleans Public Housing After Hurricane Katrina presents the results of qualitative research conducted with 184 low-income black women who lived in public housing prior to Hurricane Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans, and who were displaced by the hurricane and the closure and demolition of their housing. This report attempts to answer a series of interconnected questions regarding the challenges that women in public housing faced when trying to evacuate, while displaced, and when trying to return or settle in new communities. The study explores the reasoning behind their choices to either return to New Orleans or remain displaced and the resources that were or were not avilable to these women as they attempted to make the best decisions for themselves and their families after such an enormous disaster. This report recommends a more holistic approach to disaster relief efforts in the United States, including coordinated services and policies that consider the needs of the most vulnerable portions of the population. The report is part of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research’s work, begun in 2005, focusing on women from different communities, backgrounds, and experiences along the U.S. Gulf Coast following the Katrina-related disasters. The research is also one of a set of investigations conducted as a part of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) Katrina Task Force.


The Status of Women in the States 2015–Work and Family
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (May 2015)


The Status of Women in the States: 2015 (full report)
by Cynthia Hess, Ph.D., Jessica Mill, Ph.D., Jeff Hayes, Ph.D., Ariane Hegewisch, M. Phil., Yana Mayayeva, Stephanie Roman, Julie Anderson, M.A., and Justine Augeri (May 2015)

The Status of Women in the States: 2015 provides critical data to identify areas of progress for women in states across the nation and pinpoint where additional improvements are still needed. It presents hundreds of data points for each state across seven areas that affect women’s lives: political participation, employment and earnings, work and family, poverty and opportunity, reproductive rights, health and well-being, and violence and safety. For each of these topic areas except violence and safety, the report calculates a composite index, ranks the states from best to worst, and assigns a letter grade based on the difference between the state’s performance in that area and goals set by IWPR (e.g., no remaining wage gap or the proportional representation of women in political office). The report also tracks progress over time, covers basic demographic statistics on women, and presents additional data on a range of topics related to women’s status. In addition, it gives an overview of how women from various population groups fare, including women of color, young women, older women, immigrant women, women living with a same-sex partner, and women in labor unions. This report builds on IWPR’s long-standing work on The Status of Women in the States, a series of data analyses and reports that for nearly 20 years have provided data on women’s status nationally and for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Status of Women in the States reports have three main goals: 1) to analyze and disseminate information about women’s progress in achieving rights and opportunities; 2) to identify and measure the remaining barriers to equality; and 3) to provide baseline measures for monitoring women’s progress. The data presented in these reports can serve as a resource for advocates, policymakers, and other stakeholders who seek to develop community investments, programs, and public policies that can lead to positive changes for women and families.


Status of Women in the States: 2015—Violence & Safety
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (May 2015)

This report examines many of the major topics that advocates in this area have prioritized, including intimate partner violence and abuse, rape and sexual assault, stalking, workplace violence and sexual harassment, teen dating violence and bullying, gun violence, and human trafficking.


The Status of Women in the States: 2015—Health & Well-Being
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (May 2015)

This report provides data on women’s health status in the United States, beginning with a composite index of women’s health that includes nine indicators covering chronic disease, sexual health, mental health, and physical health. It analyzes data on additional aspects of women’s health,including behavioral measures such as smoking, exercise, and diet,and preventive health care measures such as mammograms, pap tests, and screenings for HIV. In addition, the report examines how women’s health status has improved or declined in these areas in recent years. It also notes places where women’s health status varies by race/ethnicity and age and examines the health status of those who identify as a sexual minority.


The Status of Women in the States: 2015—Reproductive Rights
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (May 2015)

This report provides information on a range of policies related to women’s reproductive health and rights. It examines abortion, contraception, the access of individuals in same-sex couples to full parental rights, infertility, and sex education. It also presents data on fertility and natality—including infant mortality—and highlights disparities in women’s reproductive rights by race and ethnicity. In addition, the report examines recent shifts in federal and state policies related to reproductive rights. It explores the decision of some states to expand Medicaid coverage under the ACA, as well as state policies to extend eligibility for Medicaid family planning services. It also reviews the recognition of same-sex marriage in a growing majority of states across the nation (National Center for Lesbian Rights 2015)—a change that has profound implications for the ability of same-sex couples to create the families they desire.


The Status of Women in the States: 2015 — Poverty & Opportunity
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (April 2015)

This report is a part of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research’s series, The Status of Women in the States: 2015, which uses data from U.S. government and other sources to analyze women’s status in each state and the United States overall, to rank and grade states on a set of indicators for six topical areas, and to provide additional data on women’s social, economic, health, and political status in states across the nation. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research has published reports on the status of women in states and localities throughout the United States since 1996 covering all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The reports have been used to highlight women’s progress and the obstacles they continue to face and to encourage policy and programmatic changes that can improve women’s opportunities. Created in partnership with expert advisors, the reports have helped state and local partners educate the public on issues related to women’s well-being, inform policies and programs, make the case for establishing commissions for women, establish investment priorities, and inspire community efforts to strengthen area economies by increasing the participation of women and improving women's status.


The Status of Women in the States: 2015 — Employment and Earnings
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (March 2015)

Women make up nearly half of the U.S. workforce, and their earnings are essential to the economic security of families across the nation. Yet, gender equality at work remains elusive. Women who work full-time, year-round still earn only 78 cents on the dollar compared with men, and during the last decade little improvement has been made in closing the gender wage gap. The glass ceiling persists, and occupational segregation—the concentration of women in some jobs and men in others—remains a stubborn feature of the U.S. labor market. These national trends show up in states across the nation. This report examines women’s earnings and the gender wage gap, women’s labor force participation, and the occupations and industries in which women work. It also considers areas where women have experienced progress toward gender equity in the workforce and places where progress has slowed or stalled.


The Status of Women in Washington: Forging Pathways to Leadership and Economic Opportunity
by Cynthia Hess, Ph.D. and Jessica Milli, Ph.D. (March 2015)

This report provides critical data and analyzes areas of progress for women in Washington, as well as places where progress has slowed or stalled. It examines key indicators of women’s status in several topical areas: employment and earnings, economic security and poverty, and political participation. The data presented on these topics can serve as a resource for advocates, community leaders, policymakers, funders, and other stakeholders who are working to create public policies and programs that enable women in Washington to achieve their full potential. Key findings in the report include the following:

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Toward Our Children’s Keeper: A Data-Driven Analysis of the Interim Report of the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative Shows the Shared Fate of Boys and Girls of Color
by Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D; Chandra Childers, Ph.D; and Elyse Shaw, MA; with Bianca Sacco-Calderone and Sheya Jabouin (February 2015)

This report was commissioned by the African American Policy Forum (AAPF) as part of a series highlighting issues confronting women and girls of color. This report uses information and data provided by the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force interim report (MBK90) and website in addition to other scholarly research to analyze the validity of the male-centric framework of the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative and to provide information about the status of women and girls of color, comparing their situation with that of men and boys of color as well as with white females and males.

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The Status of Women in Connecticut's Workforce
by Cynthia Hess, Ph.D. (November 2014)

Women in Connecticut have made significant advances in the workforce in recent years but continue to face persistent disparities and inequities that often prevent them from reaching their full potential. Women’s labor force participation has increased over the last two decades, the gender wage gap has narrowed, and women are more likely than in the past to work in managerial or professional occupations. At the same time, many women in Connecticut experience a persistent gender wage gap, limited access to affordable child care, and low levels of education. In addition, women in the state face stark disparities in opportunities and access to resources across racial and ethnic groups and geographic locations. Addressing such challenges and disparities is essential to the continued advance- ment of women and to the well-being of Connecticut as a whole.


Washington, DC, Ranks Highest for Women's Employment and Earnings; West Virginia Ranks Lowest
by Institute for Women's Policy Research (September 2014)

States across the nation vary considerably in their progress toward women’s employment and earnings equity. On the Institute for Women’s Policy Research 2014 composite index on employment and earnings—which includes four key indicators of women’s status in the workforce—the District of Columbia ranks first in the nation and West Virginia ranks last. *Correction: An earlier version of this Quick Figures had the composite score for Maryland incorrectly listed as 4.40. With the change to 4.65, Maryland ranks second in the nation on the composite index, followed by Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey. The previous rankings had Massachusetts listed as second, Connecticut as third, New Jersey as fourth, and Maryland as fifth.


The Well-Being of Women in Utah: An Overview
by Cynthia Hess, Ph.D. and Claudia Williams (May 2014)

This briefing paper provides an overview of how women in Utah fare in key dimensions of their lives: earnings, education, and economic security; physical and emotional health and safety; and political leadership and participation. While it lies beyond the scope of the paper to address other key aspects of women’s overall well-being—such as faith and spirituality, family and friendships, civic and community involvement, and sports and fitness—the data provided here identify important areas of progress and challenges for Utah women and suggest policy directions that would benefit the state as a whole.

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