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The Status of Women in Washington — It’s All Connected

WFA presser edit
President of the Women Helping Women Fund Nancy Mahoney; Director of Washington State University’s Women’s Resource Center Turea Erwin; GSI’s VP of Education & Workforce and Executive Director of Spokane STEM Alisha Benson; Women’s Funding Alliance Executive Director Liz Vivian; Spokane County Commissioner Shelly O’Quinn; Spokane City Councilmember Candace Mumm

The Women’s Funding Alliance recently held a press conference at GSI to share the results of their research report The Status of Women in Washington: Forging Pathways to Leadership and Economic Opportunity.

The report provides critical data and analyzes areas of progress for women in Washington, and examines key indicators of women’s status in several topical areas: employment and earnings, economic security and poverty, and political participation.

 

Key findings include:

  • In Washington, 58.7 percent of women are in the labor force, either employed or actively looking for work.
  • Women’s median annual earnings in Washington for full-time, year-round workers ($41,300) are higher than earnings for women nationwide ($38,000), but considerably lower than earnings for men in Washington ($53,000).
  • In 2013, women in Washington earned 77.9 cents on the dollar compared with their male counterparts, a slightly larger gap than the gap between women’s and men’s earnings nationwide.
  • At the current rate of progress since 1959, the gender wage gap in Washington is projected to close in the year 2071.
  • If women received equal pay, the earnings increase added up across all women in the state would amount to $11.2 billion, representing 2.7 percent of Washington’s gross domestic product in 2013.
  • Women’s poverty rate in Washington is lower than the rate for women nationwide. Among the largest racial and ethnic groups, Native American women have the highest poverty rate at 27.1 percent, followed by Hispanic (26.4 percent) and black women (23.7 percent).
  • Women in Washington are more likely than in the nation as a whole to have a bachelor’s degree or higher (32.4 percent compared with 29.7 percent).
  • In Washington, women’s voter registration and turnout rates are higher than in the nation as a whole. In 2012, 69.9 percent of women aged 18 and older in Washington registered to vote, compared with 67.0 percent in the nation.
  • Washington ranks fifth in the nation for the number of seats in its state legislature that are held by women (48 of 147 seats, or 32.7 percent). If progress continues at the current rate, women in Washington will achieve parity in their representation in the state legislature in the year 2038.

During the March 5 press conference, several area leaders – Spokane County Commissioner Shelly O’Quinn; Spokane City Councilmember Candace Mumm; Director of Washington State University’s Women’s Resource Center Turea Erwin; President of the Women Helping Women Fund Nancy Mahoney; and GSI’s VP of Education & Workforce and Executive Director of Spokane STEM Alisha Benson – came together to share insights about what this report means here at home, in the greater-Spokane region.

GSI’s Alisha Benson compiled some thoughts after her participation in the panel:

There is an urgency to address the issues that affect women, across all income levels. The problem has gone on too long and the success of women and girls is a key indicator of the health of our entire region.

Simply put, businesses thrive when they fully utilize the talents of the people they employ, and that means solving the question of why women do not progress as expected and why they are not paid as well as men. If women thrive, families thrive, businesses thrive, and our economy thrives. It’s all connected.

Working on the challenges identified in this report is important for everyone – and Greater Spokane Incorporated will continue do its part to find ways to bring businesses into this discussion in a meaningful way.

We encourage businesses to begin looking at issues through a gender lens and questioning if they have a problem, and then making a plan and acting to remedy disparities if problems do exist. Let’s use this research, and this opportunity, to give women and minorities in this state the ability to compete for 21st century jobs.

We want to know:

What do you think about the findings in this report?

What is your business doing to ensure equality?

What can GSI do to help your efforts?

 

 

 

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