Gov. Beverly Purdue released the findings of the Status of Women in North Carolina report, the first of its kind in 15 years, on Thursday. The report was published by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and covers four topics: political participation, health and well-being; employment, education and earnings; and economic security. Findings show marked improvement over the last 20 years in female representation in elective executive positions, higher education (beyond secondary school), teen pregnancy rates, and preventative healthcare.
There are also some startling negative findings in the report.
Some of the more disheartening conclusions are that women in North Carolina earn 83 percent of men's earnings, and although women with college degrees outnumber men in the state, they make an average of $20,000 less (29 percent gender wage gap) than men with the same degree.
North Carolina mothers pay more for quality childcare than they would pay for a full year of in-state college tuition. In addition, 38 percent of women live in poverty, which is roughly the population of the entire state of West Virginia. To compound this problem, 36 percent of North Carolina households spend 30 percent or more of monthly income on housing costs, which is considered unaffordable by the U.S. Department of Housing. The most deplorable statistic was that Hispanic women in North Carolina have the lowest median annual earnings ($24,000), leaving 64 percent of the state's female Hispanic population living in poverty.
Mary B. McMillan was the keynote speaker for the National Organization for Women's annual conference on Saturday and the secretary and first female officer of the North Carolina's AFL CIO. She expounded upon the troubling condition for working women and mothers in the state.
“Almost one-third of women earn poverty-level wages. Women are working as hard as they can at jobs that do not put food on the table," she said. McMillan went on to explain, “If we are going to be taxed the same, and expected to pay the same prices for goods and services, we should be paid the same wages. Gender wage gaps can mean a lifetime earnings difference of anywhere from $200,000 to $2 million.”