Washington ranks in top 10 in equality-for-women survey

By GENARO ARMAS

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Gains in education and income and an increased presence in politics has helped women boost their economic and social status in recent years, especially in the West and New England, a new study says.

Yet even states rated highly in the new report must progress in order for women to gain equality with men, said Heidi Hartmann, president of the nonprofit Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

"Overall, we have found that American women are on a slow and uneven road to equality," Hartmann said in releasing the report Wednesday.

The Institute is an advocacy group for women’s issues, including abortion rights. The report is the third since 1996. Created to stimulate debate on women’s issues, it rates the 50 states and the District of Columbia on women’s rights and equality, based on various economic and social indicators.

The rankings are based on women’s status in political participation, employment and earnings, economic autonomy, reproductive rights and health and well-being.

A summary in the report noted that Washington state, Connecticut and Vermont ranked in the top 10 in at least three of the categories.

Overall, Washington state ranked seventh in the report, while Alaska ranked third and California came in at eighth.

Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee ranked in the bottom 10 in at least three categories.

Mississippi, for example, ranked 51st in terms of women’s reproductive rights and 49th in economic autonomy, which included factors such as the percentage of women with health insurance and the percentage of women-owned businesses.

"It’s not a satisfactory situation," said Marianne Hill, senior economist for Mississippi’s Center for Policy Research and Planning. "The key is to get more women in leadership roles, not just in government, but in the business world and education."

Vermont ranked first for reproductive rights, and both Vermont and Connecticut were in the top 10 for political participation and economic autonomy.

Connecticut women working full time made 75 cents for every dollar their male counterparts made — a penny above the national average, the report found.

Wyoming had the lowest ratio: 63 cents for every dollar earned by a man. The District of Columbia’s 86 cents was the smallest earnings gap.

"For the most part, in states where women’s political status is strong, their economic status is strong as well," said Amy Caiazza, study director for the Institute.

The Institute is affiliated with George Washington University in Washington.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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