Women’s Economic Status in the U.S.and in the Great Lakes Region Vicky Lovell, Ph.D., and Erica Williams Institute for Women’s Policy Research Women’s Economic Empowerment YWCA Great Lakes Alliance Region March 15, 2007 www.iwpr.org
IWPR's Mission The Institute for Women's Policy Research conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women, promote public dialogue, and strengthen families, communities, and societies. IWPR focuses on issues of poverty and welfare, employment and earnings, work and family issues, health and safety, and women's civic and political participation.
IWPR’s Status of Women in the States Project Started in 1995 in response to devolution of public policies from national to state policy makers Since 1996, reports have measured and tracked women’s economic well-being The most widely cited resource on women in the country State-level indicators, rankings, and grades highlight differences among states Advisory groups ensure that measures are relevant in each state and that results will be used
The Status of Women in the States Reports are Designed to: • Inform citizens about the progress of women in their state relative to women in other states, to men, and to the nation as a whole. • Provide baseline measures of women’s status in each state and DC. • Track change and call attention to disparities around the country.
Women’s Earnings in the Great Lakes Region, 1995 to 2005 U.S. Average Ohio = #19 Wisconsin - #24 Indiana - #29
Occupational Segregation in Top 10 Women’s Jobs, 2005 Source: U.S. Department of Labor, 20 Leading Occupations of Employed Women Full-time Wage and Salary Workers 2005 Annual Averages (http://www.dol.gov/wb/factsheets/20lead2005.htm)
Policy and Advocacy Impacts of the SWS Project • Outreach and Education Initiatives • Capacity- and Institution-Building • Political Participation/Legislative Activity • Research Initiatives • Grantmaking
Outreach and Education Initiatives • The Women’s Fund of the Milwaukee Foundation created a workshop to teach advocates and others how to use data to promote policy changes. • Wisconsin Women = Prosperity has conducted workshops on best practices for employers and on violence against women and what it means for their well-being. • The SW in IN report was distributed at a conference that resulted in preliminary formation of a statewide living wage campaign in Indiana. • The SW in IN report led to outreach to state legislators around campaigns for improved health care and expanded economic opportunities in Indiana.
Outreach and Education (cont.) • WI Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton worked with the SW in Wisconsin Advisory Committee to hold a women’s legislative summit entitled Wisconsin Women Forward. • In Michigan, women gathered around 100 people including Deans of college campuses, the mayor, the president of the Chamber of Commerce, and leaders from non-profit organizations to discuss what the SW in IN report implied for the state's economic development. • The Greater Milwaukee Foundation created a toolkit for agencies serving women and girls. • Wisconsin Women = Prosperity formed Regional Solutions Networks across the state and compiled and distributed Take Action papers to be used by advocates and activists to promote women's well-being in their area.
Capacity- and Institution-Building • The report led to the establishment of the Illinois Commission on the Status of Women. • The SWS data and findings helped to reestablish the Missouri Women's Council, which was originally established in 1985. • The SW in MO report led to the formation of the Alliance for the Status of Missouri Women, an active coalition of organizations and government agencies working toward improving women's health, economic, and political status in the state. • Lt. Governor Lawton convened a task force in 2005 in response to Wisconsin's ranking of 48th among the states for women's mental health, as reported by the Institute for Women's Policy Research in their Status of Women in Wisconsin report.
Capacity- and Institution-Building (cont.) • Women leaders in Wisconsin formed a nonprofit organization, Wisconsin Women=Prosperity. • The Illinois report helped to revitalize the Chicago Foundation for Women and its funding priorities on its 20th anniversary. • The SW in MN report helped the Women’s Fund of the Greater Milwaukee gain more visibility, expand its outreach, and serve as a primary resource for developing programs and prioritizing efforts to better respond to the realities of Wisconsin's women and families. • The SWS project inspired the formation of the Women's Research Network at Wright State University in Ohio.
Political Participation/ Legislative Activity • Wisconsin Women= Prosperity and its grassroots regional networks of women have used the report to increase the number of women in political office. They recently succeeded in getting the first woman elected to the Green Bay City Council, two women elected to the Green Bay County Board, and a woman elected to the Oshkosh City Council. • The SW in IN report informed legislation passed by the House that required the creation of an equal pay committee to study the state's wage disparities and to report its findings and recommendations for corrective action to the Labor Commissioner and Governor. • The SW in MO report aided the Missouri Women's Council, a government established institution, in outlining legislative priorities for women.
Political Participation/Legislative Activity (cont.) • Advocates pushed for a bill to create an Illinois Commission on the Status of Women in 1999. • The SW in MI report helped the Michigan Women’s Commission to support the enforcement of equal pay for equal work laws and family-friendly workplaces in the state and to provide training for women to run for office and to support programs recruiting young women into the political pipeline. • The SW in MI report influenced the introduction of bipartisan legislation to require all health insurance companies to cover contraceptives.
Research Initiatives • The Status of Michigan Women at the County Level was released by the Michigan Women's Commission and the James A. Faith Knight Foundation in June 2005 and based on the IWPR reports. • The Women's Research Network at Wright State University in Ohio created a Regional Database Initiative, a comprehensive database of existing research and data that serves as a resource for scholars, organizations, and individuals throughout the region. • The SWS project inspired the formation of a new Institute on Women, Gender, and Public Policy at Ohio State University. • The Women's Research Network also conducted a survey that provides a baseline portrait of the status of women in the Miami Valley. • The SWS project and reports inspired the Greater Cincinnati Foundation's Women's Fund to publish Pulse: A Study on the Status of Women and Girls in Greater Cincinnati.
Research Initiatives (cont.) • The Wisconsin Women’s Council published The Status of Women in Wisconsin Counties: A Research Blueprint modeled after IWPR's Community Research Tool. • The La Follette School of Public Affairs and the Women's Studies Research Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison joined efforts to create the Center for Public Policy and the Status of Women, which conducts research and recommends policy changes for addressing Wisconsin women's status based on the SW in WI report and WW=P's issue priorities. • The Wisconsin Women's Council and the Women's Fund of Greater Milwaukee produced a report on the Status of Women in Milwaukee County, based on IWPR's SWS series. • The Wisconsin Women's Council partnered with a state research organization to combine local and IWPR research on women's economic well-being.
Grantmaking • The Michigan Women's Foundation has used the SW in MI and SWS data to guide its grantmaking around the economic self-sufficiency and leadership development of women and girls. • The Women's Fund of the Greater Milwaukee uses the report to inform strategic planning and grant making. • The SWS reports have informed the funding priorities of the Otto Bremer Foundation, a regional fund that works in Wisconsin among other states. It has, for example, now prioritized coalition-building as a major area.
Conclusion Data on the status of women can be an effective tool for policy advocacy at the state and local level. The SWS data have been used as the centerpiece of events, advocacy campaigns, and coalition-building. They have also been used to develop publicity hooks and more specific legislative action and to bolster support for institutions and organizations committed to women's progress. IWPR's partnership with state and local organizations and advocates is central to the ability of data to make a difference.