By Mark Richardson – Texas News Service
AUSTIN – Texas is one of the worst states in the nation for women in terms of equality and opportunity, according to two new studies. Reports from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and WalletHub both quote statistics that show women in Texas are paid less than men for the same job, are more likely to be uninsured and have little or no access to paid time off or family leave from their jobs.
Ariane Hegewisch, director of the Washington, D.C.-based institute’s Employment and Earnings Program, said women in Texas, particularly blacks and Hispanics, face an uphill battle in their work and family lives.
“The issue is the notable absence in Texas of any paid leave supports,” she said. “Texas has nothing. And Texas also, there’s not any laws to give people paid sick days.”
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research recently reported on the Status of Women in the South and gave Texas a grade of D-plus for its poor work-and-family policies, low rate of health insurance and low rate of political participation by women. The WalletHub survey rated Texas 42nd out the 50 states for high poverty rates and low life expectancy for women.
Hegewisch said one bright spot in the surveys is the relatively high number of Texas women who own businesses. When the Institute’s researchers were developing the study, she said, they did what-if projections to see what might happen if Texas women were to gain full equality.
“What would it do to women’s earnings and what would it do to poverty? And what you can see is that it halves poverty,” she said. “The money it would put into women’s pockets is the same as 2.5 percent of Texas’ GDP.”
Hegewisch said, however, that at the current rate of progress, it will take a minimum of 30 years for women to gain equal status in Texas. She said the report lists a number of policies Texas officials should consider adopting to improve the lives of women, their families and, in turn, the state’s overall economy.