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Grades Are in for Status of Women in Colorado

PHOTO: Two new reports measuring how women fare across the nation show Colorado women fall short in work and family policies, and in political leadership. Photo courtesy of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.
PHOTO: Two new reports measuring how women fare across the nation show Colorado women fall short in work and family policies, and in political leadership. Photo courtesy of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.
June 2, 2015

DENVER - Colorado got its report card on the status of women in key areas, and compared with men, the grades aren't good.

Two new reports, the last of a seven-part series published by the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR), show Colorado and the nation fall short on work and family policies for women.

In particular, Colorado received a C- on voter registration, turnout and representation of women in elected office. Lauren Casteel with the Women's Foundation of Colorado says, as a black woman, she's seen very few black women at the highest level of the political process.

"In general, women in elected office who are fully engaged is quite low," she says. "We ranked 18 on the IWPR scale, and if you were going to drill that down to women of color, it's even less."

The reports found that nationally, women of color make up roughly 18 percent of the voting-age population, but hold only six percent of the seats in Congress, five percent in state legislatures and under three percent of state elected offices.

Colorado received a B- for the level of poverty and opportunity for women, and only average grades in reproductive rights and work and family.

Casteel says political representation is connected to the state's poor performance overall. If more women were in decision-making positions, she argues, there would be support for women in areas such as paid leave and child care.

"Low-income single moms are finding themselves in untenable positions," she says. "They may need to choose between high-quality child care and other kinds of basic human needs."

Casteel adds that families with children living below the poverty line spent 30 percent of their income on child care in 2011, more than three times the proportion spent by families living above the poverty line.

The reports also found women are nine times more likely than men to work part-time for family care reasons, and mothers still do the majority of unpaid family work.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO