State of California’s Women: We Score Grade ‘A’

Women in California earn 84 cents on the male dollar, compared with 77 cents nationally. (Images_of_Money/Flickr)
Women in California earn 84 cents on the male dollar, compared with 77 cents nationally. (Images_of_Money/Flickr)

Turns out women in California don’t have it so bad. Hard to believe, I know, but compared with the rest of the country, California gets a grade of “A” in women’s overall well-being. It actually ranks fourth, after Maryland, Hawaii and Vermont.

Rankings and grades were assigned by the Center for American Progress, a nonpartisan research and educational institute based in Washington, D.C. The center just issued its report on “The State of Women in America.” It reviewed three categories critical to women’s well-being: economics, leadership and health. And within each of those categories, it analyzed 36 factors such as the wage gap, number of women in elective office, percentage of women uninsured, etc.

The center notes that women have made great gains in the leadership arena in particular. A record number of women ran for public office in 2012, and a record-high percentage of women are serving in Congress. And women have made progress on health issues, which impact women’s personal well-being as well as their economic security (women make up almost half of all workers in the United States today). But “substantial inequalities” remain: The pay gap between men and women, and especially between men and women of color, is significant, even in states that ranked high. For example, nationally women earn 77 cents on the male dollar. African-American women make 64 cents for every dollar white men make, and Hispanic women earn only 53 cents. In California, women make 84 cents on the male dollar; African-American women make the same 64 cents and Hispanic women make a measly 44 cents. The report outlined other inequalities:

While 2012 was a watershed year for women in terms of getting elected to public office, women still comprise only 18.1 percent of Congress, despite making up more than half of the U.S. population.

They also face challenges on health issues, as 2012 saw continued conservative efforts to erode women’s ability to make their own decisions about their health and well-being.

Despite California’s top grade, things are far from rosy in the state. The percentage of women and girls living in poverty, for instance, is 18 percent overall (27 percent African-American women and girls, 25.6 percent Hispanic, 12.8 Asian and 26.8 Native American). By contrast, Maryland’s overall percentage is 11.4 (17.4 African-American, 16.3 Hispanic, 8.1 Asian and 11.5 Native American).

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