HARTFORD–Women may be making be making strides in pay equity, education, and owning businesses, but it’s not happening fast enough, according to one research group.
The Permanent Commission on the Status of Women’s research partner, The Institute for Women’s Police Research, released its 2015 report on how women are fairing in the United States. The result is The Poverty and Opportunity Composite Index, which is based on four factors: educational attainment, business ownership, poverty and access to health insurance coverage.
Over the last decade the status for those metrics in 29 states has worsened. However, Connecticut is one of 21 states, plus Washington D.C., that has seen improvement.
Overall, Connecticut received a B on the women’s poverty and opportunity index. That means the state was ranked fourth in the nation; Washington D.C. made first place with an A-, followed by Maryland and Massachusetts, which both earned a B+.
Unfortunately, ranking high doesn’t necessarily equate to women doing well. In D.C., women have the highest level of education nationwide and own the most businesses, but the city ranks 47th for women who live above the poverty line.
Connectict ranked fourth best for women who aren’t living in poverty–89.4 percent of women in Connecticut are above the poverty line. The states that outranked Connecticut include Alaska, which came in first, New Hampshire and Maryland.
The five worst states in the nation for the overall women’s poverty and opportuntiy index are Mississippi in last place, followed by Arkansas, West Virginia, Kentucky and Louisiana.
In all states women are poorer than men, and Connecticut is no exception. While 10.6 percent of women over the age of 18 in the state live in poverty, only 7.8 percent of men do. For Hispanic women, that number jumps to 27.3 percent; for blacks it’s 20 percent. In Connecticut, 6.9 percent of white women and 7.1 percent of Asian women live in poverty.
A main focus of the report was on how single mothers fare. Connecticut is ranked sixth for the least number of households run by a single mom that are in poverty; 34.7 percent of single-mother households in the state are scraping by.
One solution noted by the report is closing the gender pay gap. The report says that pay equity would cut poverty for single working moms nearly in half: from 28.7 percent to 15 percent.
“Women in Connecticut have made significant gains in the last 25 years, but still face a persistent gender wage gap and higher rates of poverty than men in the state,” said Carolyn Treiss, executive director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, and a member of IWPR’s Status of Women in the States National Advisory Committee.
Learn more about pay equity here.