Yesterday, Terry Hernandez made a presentation at the Way Up Conference, which is an annual 2-day conference for women in higher education. She shared with the group the status of girls and women in Iowa, according to the most current information.
A September 2013 publication by the Center for American Progress, a nonpartisan research and educational institute in Washington, D.C. “The State of Women in America” provided a 50-state analysis of how women are doing across the country, which provided not only an overview of where women are, but a comparative ranking by state in the categories of economic security, leadership, and health.
In general, American women have made some progress over the past few years, including gaining free contraception coverage through the Affordable Care Act, and ending gender discrimination by large insurance companies. Despite advancements, there still remain inequities – pay, leadership, healthcare decisions.
Iowa ranked 21st in the nation overall in 2013 – receiving a grade of C+ in the three overarching sectors of economic security, leadership, and health and well-being. Not too great, but better than some of the more specific rankings:
D+ (32nd in the nation) in economic security for women: comparing wage gap, poverty, health leave policies, and early childhood education.
These measures are used, because they often have a disparate impact on women and may relate to the attitudes about women in the workplace. Iowa women earn .78 to a man’s dollar, reports nearly 14% of women and girls living in poverty, and has virtually no state policies for paid family leave, temporary disability, or paid sick leave. And roughly half of Iowa’s 4-year-olds are enrolled in state-sponsored preschool.
F (42nd in the nation) in leadership: comparing number of women in state and federal elected office and management-level positions.
Having women in leadership positions in the government and workplace empowers women to have a role in making decisions that affect them, and fully utilizes all available human capital. Iowa has never elected a woman to U.S. congress or to the governor’s office, has only 13.3% of seats held by women in the state legislature, and reports only 1/3 of management-level jobs statewide held by women.
A- (7th in the nation) on women’s health issues: comparing availability of Planned Parenthood’s preventive health and contraceptive services, health insurance coverage, maternal and infant mortality, and Medicaid coverage.
Medical bills are the number one cause of bankruptcy filings in America today, so access to affordable health care services can dramatically affect a woman’s life and family. And the extent to which women have choices in reproductive health can mean the difference between disruption of school or career, economic hardship, and further issues including child abuse. And nearly 10% of Iowa women ages 18-65 have no health insurance coverage at all.
These statistics continue to inform our work – in ensuring economic equality, leadership opportunities, and health care services for women and girls. We’re not just improving a few women’s lives; the lives of their families and children, as well as future generations, deserve it. Thank you for your leadership in this work.