Tuesday, August 25, 2015


See full 'Status of Women in Indiana' infographic here

By Jessica Fraser

As the annual commemoration of Women’s Equality Day approaches this Wednesday August 26th, I thought it was an appropriate time to take stock of how women are faring in Indiana and to highlight the policies that should be enacted to improve equality for Hoosier women. The answer is that economically speaking Hoosier women are not equal. In the pay gap alone, if nothing changes it will be 43 more years before women enjoy parity with men.

• Women outnumber men in both poverty and extreme poverty and their ranks are increasing at a faster clip than are men’s. From 2012 to 2013, the number in poverty increased by 4.4% (from 544,799 to 568,598 women), while the number of men increased by only 0.2% (from 445,526 to 446,429 men). 

• Industries that typically pay low wages are dominated by female workers. Most notably office and administrative support staff (28% more women than men) which pays on average less then $15.00 per hour. Women also make up more of the service sector jobs with an average wage of $12.65 per hour.

• Women earn just $0.73 cents to their male counterparts (the 6th largest gender gap in the U.S.). Because 2/3rds of minimum wage workers are women, raising the wage (and the tipped wage) is a good step towards equal pay. This gap is felt by women in all income quintiles.

Male/Female Hourly Wage Gap, by Percentile, Indiana, 2007 ‐ 2013 (2013 Dollars)


Source: Economic Policy Institute analysis of Current Population Survey data

• Women are less likely to be unemployed, but once unemployed are more likely to experience long-term unemployment. On average, it takes women 2 weeks longer to find work than it takes men.

• The poverty rate for female-headed households is much higher than for all families. Strengthening the social safety net in a way that values all types of families is the appropriate response to this disparity. 



Female-headed Household Poverty vs. All Families Poverty, 2013


Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 American Community Survey Poverty by Family Type


Eight Policies That Can Help Close Gender Disparity Gaps: 

1) Eliminate the childcare benefit cliff – a $0.50 raise can result in a loss of childcare – to encourage work and restore the most basic incentive for upward mobility – that a raise equals an increase in net resources.

2) Continue efforts to eliminate the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) waitlist of nearly 8,200 children in nearly 5,000 families

3) Eliminate antiquated TANF and SNAP asset tests to promote savings behavior, encourage self-sufficiency and create administrative efficiency.


4) Tie TANF eligibility and benefits to inflation and need to maintain real value of benefits for low-income parents. 

5) Increase investments in Individual Development Accounts (IDA) - This will enable Hoosiers of modest means to save money and build financial assets to purchase a home, to pay for postsecondary education expenses, or to start a small business. 

6) Provide Paid Sick and Family Leave - The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not guarantee working mothers paid time off to care for a new child. In Indiana, 48% of the private sector workforce does not have access to paid sick days.

7) Raise the Minimum Wage - From our recent blog post, 15 Reasons to Raise Indiana's Minimum Wage: 20% of female workers in Indiana would be directly affected, according to a GovBeat analysis of an Economic Policy Institute report.

8) Provide supportive services for low income adults pursuing postsecondary education- Higher education for low-income families is a critical path to prosperity for many families. It’s an imperative for Indiana’s economy too as continued growth hinges on maintaining a skilled workforce. Adult learners need greater access to financial aid and supportive services such as child care and transportation if they are to succeed in higher education. 

Women across the nation won the right to vote 95 years ago; this was a huge victory for women’s equality. That doesn’t mean there aren’t more battles to be won… Hoosier women still have some fights ahead of us if we are to achieve full equality.

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