Wisconsin scores C-minus in ‘State of Women’ analysis

Lisa Neff, Staff writer

Wisconsin, with a grade of C-minus, ranks No. 29 and in the bottom half of the states in a new study mapping “The State of Women in America.”

The report from the Center for American Progress deals with issues such as economic security, leadership and health care and looks at progress and setbacks in all 50 states.

On economic security, researchers looked at the earnings of women and men, a state’s minimum wage, poverty rates, paid family leave and sick leave laws, disability insurance laws and pre-K opportunities for children.

On leadership, the researchers looked at the numbers of women in public office and management positions.

In terms of health, researchers looked at recent legislation regarding reproductive care and limits on abortions, contraception policy, the numbers of uninsured women, Medicaid expansion policies, infant mortality rates, maternal mortality rates and the number of women for every ob/gyn in the state.

The survey rated Wisconsin an overall C-minus with a ranking of No. 29. In terms of health care, Wisconsin ranked No. 33 with a D-minus. Its economic ranking was 29 and a C-minus. Its leadership ranking was No. 28 and a C-minus.

In the overall ranking, Maryland scored best, followed by Hawaii, Vermont, California, Delaware, Connecticut, Colorado, New York, New Jersey and Washington to create the Top 10.

Louisiana came in at No. 50. The Bottom 10 included Utah, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, South Dakota, Indiana, Georgia and Tennessee.

In a close up analysis, the researchers noted:

• In Vermont, women make on average close to 85 cents for every dollar a man makes. Women in Wyoming make 65 cents for every dollar a man earns.

• The wage gap in Wisconsin shows women, on average, making 78 cents for every dollar a man makes. African-American women in the state earn 65 cents and Hispanic women earn 53 cents for every dollar a man makes.

• Fifteen states have no women representatives in the U.S. House or Senate.

• Less than 10 percent of women in Vermont are uninsured, but 26 percent of women in Texas lack health care coverage.

• More than 22 percent of women in Louisiana live at the poverty level. The percentage of women living in poverty in Maryland is 11 percent.

• About 58 percent of those who would benefit from increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 in Wisconsin are women. The analysis estimates that 368,000 women would benefit.

“While women have come a long way over the past few decades, much remains to be done to ensure that all women can have a fair shot at success,” said Anna Chu, one of the authors of the report.

She said the report shows that “in many states, it is still difficult for women and their families to get ahead, instead of just getting by.”

The Center for American Progress, which published the study on Sept. 25, is a progressive group. Earlier this month, it partnered with American Women, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and the Service Employees International Union to launch “Fair Shot,” a campaign to promote policies that improve economic security, leadership opportunities and health care for women.