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Research Finds Economic Inequities Holding Iowa Women Back

New research shows if current trends continue, Iowa women will not see equal pay compared to men in similar jobs until 2056. (Pixabay)
New research shows if current trends continue, Iowa women will not see equal pay compared to men in similar jobs until 2056. (Pixabay)
January 9, 2017

DES MOINES, Iowa – Despite advances in recent years, new research finds Iowa women still face inequities that can prevent them from reaching their full potential.

The report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research gives Iowa a C grade on poverty and opportunity, and a C-minus for women's employment and earnings.

Report co-author Julie Anderson says paying women the same as men for comparable work and hours would pull more than half of those women out of poverty, and have a ripple effect on the entire state.

"So, the wage gap is obviously a drain on individual women, but a huge drain on the state economy, and public assistance programs,” she states. “And so, that's a big, big policy lever that would have a huge impact."

The report says full-time working Iowa women earn 77 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts and, if current trends continue, will not see equal pay until 2056.

Anderson says providing paid sick days and family leave are other benefits that would make a big difference to women, as they typically shoulder the responsibility when family illnesses or emergencies arise.

"It's women who will back out of the labor force, and that's very, very difficult to recover from,” she explains. “But paid sick days and paid family leave will support families in keeping multiple earners in the workplace, and not dropping out because of that impossible bind."

According to the report, the percentage of Iowa women living above the poverty level fell from 90 percent in 2004 to 86 percent in 2015.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IA