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Tallying AZ, U.S. Progress on Women’s Equality Day

California, home of Democratic Party vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris, ranks 10th in a national survey of "Best & Worst States for Women's Equality." Arizona ranks fifth. (Davey D Cook/Flickr)
California, home of Democratic Party vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris, ranks 10th in a national survey of "Best & Worst States for Women's Equality." Arizona ranks fifth. (Davey D Cook/Flickr)
August 26, 2020

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Women earned the right to vote 100 years ago today with passage of the 19th Amendment. On this Women's Equality Day, however, how close to "equality" women have come in Arizona and across the country may depend on who you ask.

A new WalletHub study has ranked Arizona fifth-highest among the states for women's equality. However, the World Economic Forum ranked the United States only 53rd out of 153 countries.

Stephanie Troutman Robbins, an associate professor and director of the Department of Gender and Women's Studies at the University of Arizona, said the divergent rankings help put things in perspective.

"Being No. 5 in a country that's No. 53 is not amazing," she said. "So, we're in a 'D' state, in an 'F' country. In women's equality, essentially a 'D' is a high-ranking score for that, and that should bother us."

The WalletHub survey included such factors as women's earnings, executive positions, work hours, levels of entrepreneurship and political representation. The global study delved deeper and found that American women still face a growing gender gap.

While women have made strides in education and in the workplace, Robbins said the burdens of events such as the COVID-19 crisis often fall more heavily on them, and even more so in households of color.

"To take on the role of educating and caregiving," she said. "I do think that where critical gains are made, the first groups to be hit by and still vulnerable to circumstances like COVID-19 are women and women of color."

Robbins said she sees the political arena as a bright spot, with more women running for and being elected to public office. She called the selection of Kamala Harris as the vice-presidential candidate on the Democratic ticket a "watershed event."

"We're seeing a lot of interesting movement at the national level," she said, "and I do think we have women leaders in the state, and it'll be interesting to see if more women leaders, especially younger women of color, emerge in a context such as Arizona."

She said she hopes that as more women are elected, such critical issues as affordable child care, access to education, the earnings gap and domestic violence will get more attention in public policy.

The WalletHub survey is online at wallethub.com, and the World Economic Forum survey is at weforum.org.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ