BY LAUREN Y. CASTEEL
PRESIDENT AND CEO, THE WOMAN’S FOUNDATION OF COLORADO
Even as Colorado’s economy flourishes, too many women’s wages are wilting, especially women of color.
New research from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) funded by The Women’s Foundation of Colorado shows that a higher percentage of all Colorado women live in poverty than just three years ago, and while the gender pay gap is narrowing, we have a distance to go in closing it for all women.
The research found that:
Substantial pay disparities across racial and ethnic groups persist. Hispanic women earn just 53.5 cents for every dollar earned by white men (the highest earners) and black women earn 63.1 cents.
While some women have experienced economic progress, other women have fallen further behind. In 2004, 90.4 percent of all women lived above the poverty level. That number fell to 85.7 percent in 2016.
The difference between women’s and men’s median annual earnings, $7,000, would pay for 1.9 years of community college tuition.
“Since 2004, Colorado’s grade for women’s poverty and opportunity has actually gotten worse, moving from a B to a B- due to an increase in the percent of women in poverty, despite the increasing share of women with higher levels of education,” explained Julie Andersen, senior research associate with IWPR. “To improve the economic status of women in the state and the economy overall, addressing the low earnings and high rates of poverty faced by women of color will be critical.”
The findings from the report reinforce the essential work of The Women’s Foundation of Colorado through our WAGES (Women Achieving Greater Economic Security) program. With 23 nonprofit organizations that make up our WAGES grantee cohort, we create programs and policies that boost and maintain economic gains for women and their families. We work together in local communities and at our Capitol to remove the persistent barriers that have obstructed women’s economic advancement for generations, including access to careers with livable wages, job training and education, affordable high-quality child care, and pay equity.
“Women are the co- or sole breadwinners in 45 percent of Colorado households with children under 18,” said Louise Myrland, vice president of programs at The Women’s Foundation. “When we implement policies and programs that optimize their economic growth, we strengthen our future workforce and the economic engine of our state.”
To support The Women’s Foundation of Colorado’s vision of a future where women of every background and identity thrive, attend our Annual Luncheon featuring sports icon and activist Billie Jean King on Oct. 10. More than 3,000 guests are expected. Purchase tickets, tables and sponsorships at wfco.org.
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