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MN Viewed as Challenging Place for Professional Women of Color

Women in Minnesota make up the majority of workers in the state who work in low-wage fields and earn minimum wage or lower, according to a 2018 survey. (Brodie Vissers)
Women in Minnesota make up the majority of workers in the state who work in low-wage fields and earn minimum wage or lower, according to a 2018 survey. (Brodie Vissers)
October 24, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS – Minneapolis is one of seven cities in the United States that are hosting the State of Womxn of Color Roadshow, with national and local speakers focused on closing achievement gaps for minority women in the workplace.

Minnesota state officials have been challenged with closing gaps in such areas as education and housing, but local business leaders also are hoping they'll notice that people of color have a harder time advancing on the job, especially women.

One of those leaders pushing for change is Sharon Smith-Akinsanya, chief executive of Twin Cities marketing firm Rae Mackenzie Group, who will be a speaker at the event.

"And it's even worse for women of color because of the economic disparity, right? When we think about child care, access to child care, access to revenue," she said.

A 2018 study from the Women's Foundation of Minnesota found that women of color were 20% less likely to be trained in management and professional fields than were their white counterparts. It also said Minnesota's Hmong women make 57 cents for every dollar earned by a white man.

Tonight's event will be held at The Riveter in Edina. The roadshow event is aimed at including all marginalized workers, including trans women and women with disabilities.

Smith-Akinsanya said young women of color need to be proactive when entering the professional field, so they're not left behind. She said establishing networks among their peers is key.

"Get connected to your employee resource network of choice," she said, "whether it's African-American, Latino - whatever works for you."

She said it's also important to seek out mentors to help achieve career goals. That's part of the advice she'll give as a speaker at tonight's event.

Event information is online at eventbrite.com, and the study is at wfmn.org.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - MN