For Immediate Release: Massachusetts’ Gender Wage Gap Not Expected to Close Until 2058
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 12, 2015
The Women’s Fund of Southeastern MA * Valerie Bassett * (617) 435-7282 * vbassett@womensfundsem
The Boston Women’s Fund * Catherine Joseph * (617)725-0035 or (781)917-7625 * firstname.lastname@example.org
The Women’s Fund of Western MA * Elizabeth Barajas-Roman * (617)910-6573 or (413)529-0087 x11 * Elizabeth@womensfund.net
Massachusetts’ Gender Wage Gap Not Expected to Close Until 2058
City, State—According to a new report released today by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), Massachusetts ranks third overall in the United States earning a B+ on women’s employment and earnings. However, we still have a ways to go to reach equity. The report, which uses government and other sources to rank and grade each state, finds that if progress continues at the current rate, women in Massachusetts will have to wait until 2058 to make as much as men. Overall, the best place for women’s employment and earnings in the United States is the District of Columbia, while the worst is West Virginia.
According to this report, in Massachusetts women overall earn 80.8% of what all men in the state earn. (This number is slightly different than recently released U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers because the reports are drawn from different surveys). The IWPR report findings show that a typical working woman in the United States loses more than $530,000 over her lifetime due to the gender wage gap. The losses are greater for women with higher levels of education, where the wage gap is highest. By the time a full-time woman worker with a college education turns 59, IWPR’s researchers calculate that she will have lost almost $800,000 throughout her life.
Three Massachusetts funds dedicated to supporting women, the Boston Women’s Fund, the Women’s Fund of Southeastern Massachusetts, and the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, point out in a joint statement that while there are many well-educated professional women earning very high salaries here, the picture is not so rosy for all women, “We are proud that Massachusetts is a great place overall for women to work. However, when you look more closely, Massachusetts ranks high nationally for the number of women in poverty. The state has the fifth highest rate of female-headed households in poverty, according to a Working Poor Families Project report from 2014. We must take action to make wages equitable for Massachusetts’ women and to create better opportunities for women to move out of poverty, which will strengthen our local economies as well as give a better start to the next generation.”
The report finds that women’s median earnings in Massachusetts vary substantially by race and ethnicity, with African American women earning $39,355 per year, Hispanic women earning $31,657, while Asian women earn $50,732, and white women earn $50,000 each year. Immigrant women earn substantially less than nonimmigrant women in Massachusetts.
In Massachusetts, women are over-represented in some jobs, and under-represented in others. For example, 20% percent of Massachusetts’s service workers are women, whereas women represent only 1% of mining and construction and 6% of manufacturing jobs, which tend to be union jobs with equitable pay. When it comes to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), Massachusetts doesn’t have equity but does better than much of the country, ranking 9th in the nation for the proportion of STEM jobs held by women, at 32%.
The report also includes data on other topics such as low-wage workers, older women and millennials, and women in unions, and includes detailed breakdowns by race and ethnicity. Along with this report, IWPR launched an accompanying website, www.statusofwomendata.org, with access to this information and additional data for each state “What really concerns us,” stated Catherine Joseph, Interim Executive Director of the Boston Women’s Fund (BWF), “is that despite the efforts of this state including passage of equal pay legislation and Boston’s compact to eliminate the gender gap by asking businesses to sign on to a fair pay pledge, there is still a wage gap of approximately seventeen percent.“ The Boston Women’s Fund is a progressive foundation that supports community based organizations and grassroots initiatives run by women and girls in order to create a society based on racial, economic, and social justice. Each year, BWF promotes a women’s agenda to address issues that keep women from earning adequate income to support their families.
Boston Women’s Fund grantees the Brazilian Immigrant Center, the Brazilian Women’s Group, Matahari: Eye of the Day, the Dominican Development Center, Women’s Institute for Leadership Development, and MassCOSH all work on initiatives to protect and expand worker rights and wages. “Another thing that greatly troubles us,” said Catherine Joseph, “is the wage disparity between white women and women of color outlined in this report. It exposes deep issues of inequality where race and gender intersect. That means that African American, Native American, and Latina women, regardless of how hard they work, are earning at least 34% less than white women and 47% less than white men.”
“In the South Coast, women have particularly low levels of education and employment – and much higher than state levels of poverty,” noted Valerie Bassett, Executive Director of the Women’s Fund of Southeastern MA. “We have a lot of work to do.” In the southeastern region as a whole, over 30% of female-headed households live in poverty, compared to 25% statewide, and the rate is much higher – 40% — for the cities of Fall River and New Bedford. Many women who are not living in official poverty are still not earning enough to support their families. For example, median earnings for women in New Bedford are $33,397 – less than the wages needed to support one adult and one child in the region, according to the MIT Living Wage Calculator and the Crittenton Women’s Union’s Massachusetts Economic Independence Index.
To address these disparities, the Women’s Fund of Southeastern MA collaborates with other regional organizations to create stronger pathways for girls and women to economic self-sufficiency. They support and initiate projects such as the current Task Force on Pathways for Women to a Living Wage, a cross-sector collaboration developing policy recommendations, and the LifeWork Project, which supports women enrolled in Bristol Community College through goal-setting, incentives, and mentoring.
The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts (WFWM) is dedicated to eradicating the wage gap for women in Western Massachusetts where the ratio is worse than other counties. Their Report on the Status of Women in Western Massachusetts published in 2013 indicates that overall, women residing in the four western counties of the Commonwealth earn about 76 cents for every dollar men earn.
“Closing the wage gap can help close disparities women face in other areas,” said Elizabeth Barajas-Roman, CEO of the WFWM. “With a fair wage, a woman could put a child through college, own her home, start a business, or save enough to retire with dignity.”
The WFWM seeks to build capacity among women in the region through their signature 10-month training program, the Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact (LIPPI). Through the LIPPI program they are empowering women to ask for a fair wage and training them to become policy leaders to help change the root causes that allow wage gap to persist.
Today’s IWPR report on women’s employment and earnings in the United States is the first in a series of releases from IWPR’s Status of Women in the States: 2015 project. The report analyzes employment and earnings data and identifies the best and worst states for women to work, giving each state a rank and a grade based on a composite index first developed by IWPR in 1996. The report is also the first ever to calculate when the pay gap will close in each state.
Throughout the spring, IWPR will release additional reports from the Status of Women in the States: 2015 with state-level data on Poverty & Opportunity, Violence & Safety, Health & Well-Being, Reproductive Rights, Political Participation, and Work & Family. Data on Violence & Safety and Work & Family are new additions to the 2015 edition. Since the first Status of Women in the States, the reports have been used to increase community and private investment in programs and policies that improve outcomes for women throughout the United States. Visitwww.statusofwomendata.org for more information about the Status of Women in the States project and upcoming releases.
The Women’s Fund of Southeastern MA raises and invests funds and takes action to increase opportunities for women to earn a living wage. Our mission is to promote educational attainment and economic security for women and girls in the region.www.womensfundsema.org #wfsema#FundingMoreFutures
The Boston Women’s Fund is a progressive foundation that supports community based organizations and grassroots initiatives run by women and girls in order to create a society based on racial, economic, and social justice. www.bostonwomensfund.org @Bostonwomenfund#Bostonwomenfund
The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts (WFWM) is a public foundation that invests in local women and girls through strategic grantmaking and leadership development. www.womensfund.net