Women in West Virginia Face Large Wage Gap, Disproportionate Poverty

Apr 05, 2013, 15:21 ET from Institute for Women's Policy Research

WASHINGTON, April 5, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A recently released report, The Status of Women and Girls in West Virginia, shows women in the state have made gains in education and entrepreneurship, but still face disproportionate levels of poverty and a gaping gender wage gap. This report was written by the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) in collaboration with the West Virginia Women's Commission (WVWC).

Women in West Virginia face a higher gender wage gap than women in all other states except Louisiana and Wyoming. The gender wage gap in West Virginia is 31 percent, compared with 21 percent for the nation as a whole. On average, women in West Virginia who work full-time, year-round earn $29,000 compared with $42,000 for men.

In some good news for the state, the number of women-owned businesses increased by nearly 3,500 between 1997 and 2007. One recent study shows that the state has experienced faster-than-average growth in the revenues women-owned firms contribute to the economy. Additionally, the proportion of women who hold a bachelor's degree or higher increased from 11 percent in 1990 to 18 percent in 2010.

While more West Virginia women are obtaining higher education than two decades ago, as of 2010, West Virginia ranked 51st out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia for its proportion of women with a four-year college degree.

According to the report, in West Virginia:

  • 18 percent of women aged 18 and older are poor, compared with 14 percent of comparable men.
  • 27 percent of African American women and 28 percent of Hispanic women aged 18 and older live at or below the federal poverty line, compared with 17 percent of white women.
  • Women with some college education or an associate's degree have median annual earnings that are $10,500 less than those of men with only a high school diploma or the equivalent.

Tonight at 7:00 p.m., IWPR's President Dr. Heidi Hartmann will present these findings as the keynote speaker for the "Stand for Women" Conference at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia.

More information about WVWC is available on their website.

The Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies.

SOURCE Institute for Women's Policy Research