Back to School? How Experiencing Violence Affects Educational Attainment

Back to School? How Experiencing Violence Affects Educational Attainment

By Lande Watson

As college students across the country head back to campus for the fall semester, some of their peers may not be among them. A new IWPR fact sheet on the economic cost of intimate partner violence (IPV), sexual assault, and stalking highlights the effect of such violence on the educational attainment of survivors. College-aged women are particularly vulnerable—women ages 18 to 24 experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault.

Students who experience IPV and sexual violence often suffer significant physical and psychological trauma, and many do not return to college as a result. Moreover, the likelihood of running into their abuser or rapist on campus, whether in class or even in their residence, can make campus an unsafe and hostile environment for survivors, particularly if colleges do not provide ample support and accommodations.

The economic effects of violence experienced by college students can also be far-reaching. Survivors may face out-of-pocket medical costs, diminished credit, and job instability. Experiencing sexual assault also makes it less likely for survivors to finish college, which may lead to a lifetime of economic disadvantage.

IWPR has reviewed key studies that illustrate how physical and psychological trauma from violence as efforts to economically sabotage victim impedes educational attainment. Survivors complete fewer years of education than students who did not experience violence, are more likely to skip school, and often drop classes or move residence to avoid their assailant. A few findings from these studies include:

  • One survey of single mothers, a growing population of college students, found that women who experienced IPV during adolescence obtained, on average, 0.5 fewer years of education than those who did not experience violence.
  • Data from the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey showed that students who experienced dating and sexual violence were more likely to skip school due to safety concerns than their peers.
  • One analysis of seven waves of data collected between 1976 and 1987 from the National Youth Survey (NYS) of adolescents 11–17 years old showed that having experienced victimization as an adolescent was associated with a decline in effort put into schoolwork and poorer academic performance, even when controlling for income and other factors. While this analysis focuses on adolescents, poor academic performance in middle school and high school may affect survivors’ ability to find academic success in higher education.
  • The Campus Sexual Assault Study, a web-based survey from over 6,800 undergraduate students on the prevalence and nature of sexual assault on college campuses, found that in response to sexual violence, victims often avoided or tried to avoid the assailant, dropped a class, moved their residence, or sought counseling.

Further, out-of-pocket health costs associated with sexual assault or rape can be burdensome for survivors, potentially straining their ability to afford other expenses, such as college tuition. For instance, one study found the average medical cost of rape within the first 30 days following treatment to be $6,737—$948 of which was paid by the victim. In addition to these short-term costs, the lifetime financial cost of rape is significant for survivors, estimated by one study to be $122,461, on average, per victim.

As a new wave of schools fall under federal Title IX investigation for their handling of sexual assault and sexual harassment, university administrators should assess how they can support survivors on campus as they work to continue and complete their education. There are many ways to support survivors on campus: schools can help survivors by connecting them to supportive services—such as financial aid, child care, mental health support, and transportation assistance—that may assist victims in seeking justice, completing their education, and achieving greater economic mobility. Teachers, faculty, college administrators, and other educational personnel should receive training on domestic violence and its economic impact on students’ lives. The Office on Civil Rights at the Department of Education has also recommended that all schools proactively consider remedies for responding to sexual harassment and domestic or dating violence, such as providing counseling services, medical services, and arranging for the complainant to retake a course without penalty.

Colleges can take these steps so that survivors—who otherwise might not return to class this month because they are dealing with the effects of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and stalking—can come back to school and complete their education.

Happy Labor Day from IWPR!

Happy Labor Day from IWPR!


Dear IWPR Supporters and Colleagues,

Today we celebrate Labor Day. As we enjoy the last days of summer, I would like to take a moment to remember the day’s true meaning—a time to honor the contributions workers have made to strengthen the well-being of our country, the struggle for improved pay and working conditions, and the fight that our value be recognized.

As Chair of the Board for the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), I’m proud to be a part of this organization and the important role we play in this on-going effort to improve working conditions and economic security for working families. Women play an essential role in the continued strength and prosperity of this country.

Early this summer, IWPR and the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) released The Status of Black Women in the United States. The report provides critical data to identify the barriers that Black women face in the workplace and to suggest investments, programs, and public policies that can lead to positive changes for Black women and their families. At the June event, “From Persistence to Power: Facts, Truth, & Equality for Women,” IWPR collaborated with Spelman College and the Wellesley Centers for Women to discuss many of the key-findings for the report. You can watch the entire event online. To read the key-findings and for more in-depth information, you can find the full report and the Executive Summary on IWPR’s website.

IWPR’s work to promote equal pay for women is important to ending poverty and improving income security for families. IWPR researchers estimate that it will take until 2059 for women to finally reach equal pay (2056 for White women, 2124 for Black women, and 2248 for Hispanic women). Black women participate in the labor force at higher rates than White, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American women, with 62.2 percent of Black women in the workforce. With the support of unions, Black women earn 32 percent more than their nonunionized counterparts.

Closing the gender wage gap would increase women’s earnings and add billions of dollars in wage and salary income to each state’s economy and $512.6 billion to the national economy. In The Economic Impact of Equal Pay by State, IWPR takes an in-depth look at the best and worst states for women workers. In the briefing paper, The Impact of Equal Pay on Poverty and the Economy, the increasingly important impact of pay equality is examined. Approximately 25.8 million children in the United States would benefit from the increased earnings of their mothers with equal pay.

The value women workers bring to the economy and the positive changes they make to our country inspire IWPR to continue to produce the reliable research that informs and promotes effective policy. At this time in our country, facts have come under attack in many ways and are challenged like never before. The news media rely on IWPR to provide them with the information necessary to tell the stories and struggles of women across the country. With your support, we can continue to fight back against misinformation and allow the media, policymakers, activists, and supporters like you to see the research for themselves.

I encourage you to take a moment today to contemplate the past, present, and future of working women in this country and how to best support their continuing achievements and struggles. As the Chair of the Board of IWPR, I ask for your support. Please make a donation to the Institute today in honor of a hard-working woman in your life.



Lorretta Johnson, Chair, IWPR Board of Directors
Secretary-Treasurer, American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO



Charlottesville: An Imperative to Intensify Action toward Equity

Charlottesville: An Imperative to Intensify Action toward Equity

The recent “Unite the Right” events in Charlottesville saw the mobilization of violent individuals by organizations working to exploit hate and fear in an effort to advance white supremacy.  The emboldened white nationalist movement in the United States requires redoubled efforts to address racism in America in all its forms, from structural racism and inequitable public policies, to outright terror.

As an organization focused on how intersections of gender, race, and ethnicity affect opportunity, safety, and prosperity, we feel it is an important time to examine what we know about the status of women of color in our society, and to consider how policy can work toward equity and move away from policies that reinforce racism.

The Status of Black Women in the United States and the Status of Women in the South reports present social and economic indicators, illustrating how women, White women, and women of color are doing in comparison with White men. These reports also provide the indicators and additional data on a state-by-state basis and can help inform action toward humane policies motivated by principles of equity.

Findings like these can help to focus action in unsettling times:

  • Women who work full-time, year-round earn less than similarly-employed men. In the South, the site of recent violent racist incidents, women earn 70% of what White men earn, 4 percentage points lower than in non-southern states.
  • The poverty rate among women in the South l (16.4 percent) is nearly 20 percent higher than in all other states outside the South (13.7 percent). Among women from the largest racial and ethnic groups in the South, Black women have the highest poverty rate at 25.5 percent, followed by Hispanic (23.4 percent) and Native American women (20.9 percent). For perspective, the poverty rate among men in the South is 12.2%.
  • Nationally, Black women are two and a half times more likely to be murdered by men than are White women. South Carolina has the highest murder rate in the country at 2.32 per 100,000 women—nearly double the national rate.
  • Young Black women aged 18-19 were four times more likely to be imprisoned than young White women. Girls and women of color are the fastest growing populations in American prisons.
  • In the South, median annual earnings for U.S.-born women are 28 percent higher than earnings for immigrant women.

Despite challenges, Black women and other women of color have consistently been at the front of the social justice movements, pushing for social and policy changes that benefit society as a whole.

In recent months, false narratives have succeeded in altering public debate and policy leaving evidence-based rigor behind. Grounded in evidence and democratic values, voices that seek openness, tolerance, and equity must be raised and strengthened.

Intern Spotlight: Jiani Yang

image_uploaded_from_ios_1024.jpgName: Jiani Yang

Major/Year/School: MA in Higher Education Administration, Graduate School of Education and Human Development, George Washington University.

Position: Research Intern, Student Parent for Success Initiative

Past Internship: Summer Intern at The Columbian College of Arts and Science Undergraduate Academic Advising Office

What drew you to an internship at IWPR?

Last spring, my history of higher education class had a series of discussions about the history of women in higher education. It was such an eye-opening journey. After speaking with some experts in the field and recognizing many issues still affecting girls and women around the world, I decided to learn more about how to empower girls and women through education. IWPR positively influences women’s status through conducting research based on strong data and analysis, which resonates with my personal and career goals.

What research areas do you focus on?

Currently my research focuses on IWPR’s Student Parent Success Initiative. This program addresses the needs of low-income student parents, especially single mothers, in accessing and completing higher education degrees through research on topics like access to child care.

What has been the best part of interning at IWPR so far?

I really enjoyed the opportunity to meet so many fun, driven, and brilliant people at IWPR. Everyone I talk with is helping me to grow both as an intern and a person. Most common tasks for research intern are fact-checking IWPR publications and collecting information. Honestly, I didn’t expect to like them. But these two activities have allowed me to learn new knowledge and develop a more mature and sophisticated research approach.

Any advice for future IWPR interns?

I have two pieces of advice for future IWPR interns. First, believe in yourself. No matter how well you think you’ve prepared for this internship, there are going to be some curve balls your work throws at you. However, it is crucial to remember you’re here to learn and you will be successful. Second, don’t be afraid to ask “stupid” questions. It is absolutely easier said than done. I had tremendous support from my fellow interns when I first came to IWPR. If you feel overwhelmed by new work, don’t feel embarrassed to ask for help.

What are your future career interests?

For the foreseeable future, I will start my Ed.M. in Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University in fall 2018. I expect to incorporate new knowledge into my research on women and girls’ education.

Favorite lunch spot? My favorite lunch spot is OKI Bowl DC & Sake. I love their chashu and beef rice bowls.

Favorite D.C. museum? I can’t pick a favorite, since I haven’t visited many museums in Washington, D.C. But art museums are my favorite type of museum. I had a great time during my most recent trip to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. I’m no art expert, but I find the aesthetics of traditional and modern art appealing and soothing.

Favorite podcast or reading material on your commute? I am fairly new to podcasts, but so far favorite one is Planet Money. Planet Money is educational, informative, and entertaining. I chose Planet Money in an attempt to learn some economics knowledge, but its light, comedic, and thought-provoking storytelling made me stay.

What else do you like to do in your spare time? I love to have brunch with friends and chat for hours. Also, I enjoy a good cup of coffee, and a quiet place to read.

Learn more about IWPR’s internship program here.

Five Ways Washington State’s Recent Paid Leave Law Breaks New Ground

Five Ways Washington State’s Recent Paid Leave Law Breaks New Ground

By Kelly Rolfes-Haase

On July 5, Gov. Jay Inslee signed Washington State’s new Family Leave Act (FLA) into law. Starting on January 1, 2020, eligible employees will be entitled to up to twelve weeks of paid, job-protected leave for qualifying family or medical reasons, capped at sixteen weeks of combined family and medical leave, plus an additional two weeks available to mothers who experience pregnancy-related complications.

Washington joins California (2004), New Jersey (2009), Rhode Island (2014), New York (2018), and the District of Columbia (2020) in putting a state-level paid family leave policy in the books. Compared with these existing state paid leave systems, however, Washington’s law has several key features that make it a pioneer on the paid family and medical leave policy landscape.

Below are five ways in which Washington State’s FLA breaks new ground.

1.      Independent Funding System

In designing their paid family leave policies, California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and New York were able to build upon the administrative infrastructure of their existing temporary disability insurance (TDI) systems by expanding benefits to cover periods of family care. Because Washington State does not have a TDI system, its paid family leave policy will require the establishment of new administrative architecture and a trust fund for the collection and disbursement of benefits. The new law calls for premiums to be collected starting in 2019, one year prior to when benefits will be available, and for the first two years, premiums have been set at 0.4 percent of an employee’s wages (up to an income limit of around $130,000).[1] Thereafter, the state will set premiums based on the balance in the trust fund account. The premiums are currently set to be shared between employees and employers, with employees paying 63 percent of the premiums and most employers covering the remaining 37 percent.

2.      Greater Coverage for Low-Income Workers

Washington’s law provides lower income workers with a proportionately higher wage replacement rate than higher income workers with the goal of making leave more accessible to all workers.[2] Employees taking leave will receive 90 percent of their wages on earnings at or below half of Washington’s average weekly wage, plus 50 percent of their wages on earnings above Washington’s average weekly wage, up to a maximum benefit (currently set at $1,000/week). This makes Washington State’s family and medical leave payments among the most generous in the country, as existing state programs provide only between 55 percent and 67 percent replacement rates.

Unlike the family and medical leave laws in California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, eligibility is based on hours worked and not on earnings. The FLA covers all employees in Washington State (with the exception of federal employees) who have worked for at least 820 hours in the last four out of five calendar quarters (about 15 hours per week, on average). In addition, workers who are self-employed may choose to participate in the program as long as they opt in for at least three years.

3.      Maximum Length of Leave

WA State Paid Leave Blog New Law

In addition to the twelve weeks of paid family leave provided through Washington’s law, the FLA also provides employees with up to twelve weeks of medical leave, with the total period of benefits capped at sixteen weeks (or eighteen weeks for women who experience pregnancy-related complications). Washington’s law makes it one of the most generous in terms of the maximum length of family leave available. Although California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island allow for significant periods of medical leave under their TDI systems, they guarantee only four to six weeks of leave for family reasons.

4.      Job Protections

The FLA provides job protections that extend beyond the twelve weeks of protection provided by the FMLA: up to the law’s cap of sixteen weeks of combined family and medical leave (or eighteen weeks for women who experience pregnancy-related complications). The law uses the more stringent FMLA requirements for employer size and hours worked for access to job protection benefits, however, which is estimated to exclude about 40 percent of private-sector workers nationally.

As a result, the FLA’s job-protection benefits are only available to employees working for larger employers (50+ employees) who have worked at least 1,250 hours in the last year.[3]

5.      Support for Businesses

All employers in Washington State (including state and local governments) must participate in the family and medical leave insurance program, although waivers are available for employers that already have private paid family and medical leave programs in place that provide at least the benefits guaranteed under the state law.

The law also provides additional supports for small businesses. First, employers with fewer than 50 employees are not required to pay the employer portion of the insurance premium, although their employees must make contributions and are eligible for paid leave. Second, if small employers choose to contribute to the fund, they may apply for a grant to assist with the cost of hiring a temporary worker or to cover other wage-related costs associated with employee leave. Finally, employers with 150 employees or fewer may apply for the same grants, all of which are funded by the family and medical leave insurance account.

Washington State’s new Family Leave Act represents an exciting development on the state-level paid family and medical leave policy scene. The law’s independent funding system, the progressivity, generosity, and coverage of its paid benefits, the length of leave available, the additional job-protection benefits provided, and its supports for small businesses make the FLA unique compared with existing state policies. Washington’s decision to implement a paid family and medical leave system in the way that it has, to borrow the words of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, will make it a laboratory of democracy for the rest of the country to watch and learn from moving forward.

To view more of IWPR’s research, visit

[1] The wage base limit subject to taxation for Social Security

[2] California is set to adopt a more progressive benefit structure starting in 2018, and the District of Columbia’s leave payments will also be progressive once they are implemented in 2020.

[3] In order to receive job protection under FMLA, employees must work for an employer with 50 or more employees, have worked for her/his employer for at least one year, and have worked at least 1,250 hours in the last twelve months.

Intern Spotlight: Abigail Clayborne

abigail.jpgName: Abigail Clayborne

Major/Year/School: Bachelor of Business Administration with a Concentration in Accountancy and a Minor in Economics. Rising Junior. The George Washington University.

Position: Administrative (Accounting/HR) Intern

Past Internships: none

What drew you to an internship at IWPR?

I knew I wanted an accounting or business internship this summer to jumpstart my business career, but I wanted to be a part of an organization with a greater purpose than just crunching numbers. My internship at IWPR has allowed me to gain valuable business skills while also supporting and learning from a forward-thinking organization.

What does a typical day at IWPR look like?

Each day is different; I could be helping with next year’s budgets, managing accounts payable, or reconciling bank accounts. I love working with numbers and am always eager to take on a challenging problem!

What has been the best part of interning at IWPR so far?

Hands down, the people. Everyone here is incredibly intelligent and passionate about the work that they do. I am surrounded by some very talented and driven people who inspire me to work hard and learn as much as I can each day that I am here.

Any advice for future IWPR interns?

Make the most of your time at IWPR and jump at every available opportunity— you won’t realize how much you have learned and grown until you are done with your internship!

What are your future career interests?

I have just accepted an internship offer with PwC for next summer. I hope to stay with the firm after graduation and see where the opportunities take me!

Favorite lunch spot? CAVA— its fast, easy, and delicious. It doesn’t hurt that it’s only a block away either.

Favorite D.C. museum? The Air and Space Museum. I am still amazed by the fact that we are able to fly massive metal objects through the air!

Favorite podcast or reading material on your commute? I only have a 15 minute walk to work, but I love listening to some smooth Indie tunes on my way in.

What else do you like to do in your spare time? I am a cheerleader at GW, so I love meeting up with my teammates and working on stunts or new skills whenever we can!

Stay tuned throughout the summer as we highlight other IWPR interns and learn more about IWPR’s internship program here.

IWPR Update: Black Women’s Equal Pay, Work-Family Supports, and Access to Child Care

IWPR Update: Black Women’s Equal Pay, Work-Family Supports, and Access to Child Care

This week at IWPR, we focused on the Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, family poverty, child care, and higher education. Here’s everything you need to know:

5 Stats to Know on Black Women’s Equal Pay Day

Monday, July 31, was Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, marking how far into 2017 Black women must work to earn what White men earned in the previous year. The average Black woman working full-time earns only 63 cents for every dollar earned by a White man. This gap is wider than for women overall, who earn 80 cents for every dollar earned by a man.

>>Read the new blog

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150 Years Later, Pay Gap Still Hurts Children

Equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender, has long been an issue in the United States. An 1869 Letter to the Editor of The New York Times questioned the fairness of the Treasury Department paying female clerks less than one-half the salary of men doing the same work. The women workers were not the only ones to suffer: “Most of them, too, have families to support; being, nearly all, either widows or orphans made by the [Civil] war.” Nearly 150 years later, the gender pay gap continues to exert a pernicious impact on children and families.

>>Read the one pager on how equal pay could cut poverty for working women by half.

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The Gender Wage Gap and Work-Family Supports: Women’s Choices or Policy Choices?

A recent article published in the Saint Louis University Public Law Review by IWPR researchers Ariane Hegewisch and Emma Williams-Baron uses state-by-state data on earnings, employment, and work-family supports from IWPR’s Status of Women in the States project to draw attention to the links between the work-family policy infrastructure and the gender wage gap.

>>Read the full blog

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​Let’s Make Child Care More Accessible

In a recent opinion piece in Inside Higher Ed, Sarah Labadie highlighted the need for accessible and affordable child care. President Trump’s proposed budget plans to eliminate the Child Care Access Means Parents in School program (CCAMPIS). The program provides child care for low-income parents enrolled in institutions of higher education and is funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Since 2004, the number of college students raising children has gone up by 30 percent — at the same time, availability of on-campus child care is dwindling.

>>Read the full article

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