Top 5 IWPR Findings of 2015

By Rachel Eichhorn and Rachel Linn

What a year it’s been for the Institute for Women’s Policy Research! In 2015, we released 119 publications, including the seven chapter Status of Women in the States: 2015 report, with an accompanying interactive website. IWPR research was cited more than 2,100 times in media outlets around the country – from a feature in Glamour Magazine to a skit on Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer. Our staff also presented or participated in over 60 meetings and events on key issues affecting women and families.

Below are our top 5 findings of 2015 (plus a bonus!) from our many research reports. Let us know which one you found most interesting or surprising on Twitter or Facebook using #IWPRtop5.

1. The overall best state for women in America is Minnesota. The worst states are Alabama and Mississippi.

SWS EE map

This Spring, IWPR released the highly anticipated Status of Women in the States: 2015 report, ranking and grading the status of women on six topic areas: Political Participation, Employment & Earnings, Work & Family, Poverty & Opportunity, Reproductive Rights, Health & Well-Being, plus data on Violence & Safety.

The site is also the most accessible, comprehensive source of state data on women of color in the U.S. Browse spotlight pages that highlight data on specific groups, such as older women, Millennials, women living in same-sex households, immigrant women, and women in unions.

2. There are five states that will not see equal pay until the next century: Louisiana, North Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Jon Stewart.jpg

A viral segment on The Daily Show called “The Future of Gender Wage Equality” summarized this finding perfectly when Kristen Schaal explained how humans will go to Mars before women get pay equity!

3. Women will not achieve political parity in Congress until the year 2117.

Share of Elective Offices Held by Women

In 2015, 20 of 100 members of the U.S. Senate (20 percent) and 84 of 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives (19.3 percent) are women. These numbers represent an increase since 2004, but the number of seats held by women in the U.S. Congress is still well below women’s share of the overall population.

4. Nearly half of current exempt Millennial women will gain overtime coverage under new U.S. DOL rule.

millennial overtime.jpg

In a report co-authored by MomsRising, IWPR found that working women—especially young women, single mothers, women workers of color, and women working in service and administrative support positions—have the most to gain from an increase of the overtime salary threshold to $50,440 proposed by the U.S. Department of Labor in July 2015. The collaboration with MomsRising helped to put a human face on those that would be positively affected by the rule change.

5. Women experience higher poverty rates than men for every demographic group and at all ages.

MBK fig. 1

The report, Toward Our Children’s Keeper, provides a discussion and analysis of the interim report of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, using data for males and females together as a reference point. The report argues that initiatives addressing the needs of young people of color should address the needs of girls and young women of color, as well as those of boys and young men of color, rather than targeting separate spending and program initiatives solely at boys and young men of color.


In 32 states, one week of additional earnings of union women is sufficient to cover the costs of full-time child care.

union advantage mapThis summer, IWPR released a briefing paper that converted women’s union advantage into childcare costs. Women represented by a union in the United States earn an average of $212 more per week than women in nonunion jobs. Union women earn more in every state, with the size of the union wage advantage varying across states: union women in Wyoming earn $349 per week more than their nonunion counterparts, while union women in the District of Columbia earn $48 more per week than D.C.’s nonunion women. This union wage advantage for women is sufficient to cover at least the weekly cost of full-time child care in a center for an infant.

You still have a chance to make research count for women in 2015. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation to IWPR.

Job Training and Support Services In-The-News: Week of December 7, 2015

Weekly Roundup of the news on women and supportive services in job training programs.

By Rachel Linn

Job training can provide an entry into family-sustaining jobs and careers. Many women in job training programs, however, face obstacles to success. Wraparound services—such as child care assistance, access to public benefits, and transportation or housing assistance—can help adults, particularly those with caregiving responsibilities, to complete programs that will ultimately improve their economic standing. 

December 14, 2015

LaCrosse Tribune (Wisconsin): 7 Rivers Alliance to spur workforce development with grant program

At the Be Bold forum, five companies outlined a skills gap and the challenge of finding qualified workers. Sean Smith, a supply chain director at Agropur Ingredients in La Crosse, said his company wants to grow and expand but was having difficulties finding enough employees for the production lines already in service.

Whitehall is a challenging area to recruit workers and families. Because of its distance from Eau Claire and La Crosse, public transportation is an issue.

Affordable housing is also a challenge in Whitehall, as is child care, both of which are widespread concerns.

December 11, 2015

Deseret News (Salt Lake City): How do you help families still mired in the Great Recession?

Since Utah’s public assistance and workforce services agencies have not always been connected, low-income families historically had to go to separate offices for help with employment, food stamps and other services, according to Nic Dunn, spokesman for the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

But the department has created “one-stop” centers to ensure that more people know about and receive the various resources available, he said.

“Having that all under one roof where it’s one touch point is way more efficient for these people,” Dunn said. “It has been such a powerful tool to help them get back on their feet a lot more quickly.”

Still, many people don’t realize those centers provide help with nonemployment services, such as food stamps, child care, after-school programs, housing and financial assistance, according to Aguirre.

December 8, 2015

MarketPlace: Job fair encourages girls to get into trades

Construction is a booming industry. But when’s the last time you saw a female construction worker? A female plumber? Turns out, there aren’t very many. Women make up only 2.6 percent of the field. The Women Can Build Career Fair in Hayward, California is trying to address this gender imbalance.

December 7, 2015

WMAZ (Georgia): Program helps train, employ central Georgia workers

The local Director, Shaknita Davis said, “It is our job and responsibility to understand what workforce trends are, what skills are needed from local industry and employers and make sure job seekers on the other side, know what skill sets are needed and then help them acquire those skill sets in order to meet the employer need as well as their need to find employment.”

Davis went on to explain that the program strives to break down any barriers for both employers and employees. “We assist them with tuition, books, fees, licenses, child care, transportation, any type of barrier that would hinder them from being able to obtain those skills that are needed.”

December 5, 2015

The Philadelphia Tribune: YouthBuild, Starbucks initiative takes local woman from homelessness to career

Starbucks has taken the lead locally in a national effort to employ “opportunity youth” such as Williams, young people between the ages of 18 and 24, who are not in school or are unemployed. According to a report commissioned by Boston-based Opportunity Nation almost six million youth are disconnected from school and work.

Through local partnership with organizations such as YouthBuild, Starbucks has hired more than 50 opportunity youth in Philadelphia during the last two years. The company has committed to hiring 10,000 opportunity youth nationally by 2018.

To view more of IWPR’s research, visit

Job Training and Support Services In-The-News: Week of November 30, 2015

Weekly Roundup of the news on women and supportive services in job training programs.

By Rachel Linn

Job training can provide an entry into family-sustaining jobs and careers. Many women in job training programs, however, face obstacles to success. Wraparound services—such as child care assistance, access to public benefits, and transportation or housing assistance—can help adults, particularly those with caregiving responsibilities, to complete programs that will ultimately improve their economic standing.

November 30, 2015

Campus Technology: Associates Degree or Cert in CTE Leads to Higher Earnings

People in California who earn a career technical education (CTE) degree or certificate from a community college earn more money — an average increase in income of 33 percent or 13 to 22 percent overall, respectively. Those are two findings from a research project undertaken by the Center for Poverty Research at the University of California, Davis.

The research also found that student characteristics across programs translated into different returns and outcomes. Because women “were much more likely than men to enter health programs,” the policy brief noted, “their average return was higher.” Driven by those high returns, women’s income increased 42 percent with an associate’s degree, compared to 21 percent for men. Women, however, were also more likely to enter the programs with the lowest returns, such as childcare.

 November 30, 2015

Omaha Public Radio: Partnership of Women’s Foundations Pledge $100 Million to Create Pathways to Economic Security

“We are going to be looking at job training, financial literacy, and child care initiatives. These are things that we know help women attain economic self-sufficiency, programs that really help women be able to take care of their families and their communities.”

November 20, 2015

NW Labor Press: Apprenticeship gets some long-overdue recognition

At 6.9 percent, Oregon has more than double the national rate of women in construction trades apprenticeships. According to Connie Ashbrook, executive director of OTI, registered apprenticeship programs in the Portland metropolitan area that her organization partners with have nearly 10 percent women, on average.

Charlie Johnson, business manager of Sheet Metal Workers Local 16, said journeyman sheet metal workers make $38 an hour, with “unparalleled” fringe benefits that include a pension and full medical benefits. “I don’t think there are too many opportunities outside the construction trades that offer that kind of income,” Johnson said.

To view more of IWPR’s research, visit