Tomorrow, August 26, is Women's Equality Day, a day commemorating the passage of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution that granted women the right to vote. Though it's clear that women have made many strides since 1920, when the 19th Amendment was passed, there's still a long way to go–and nowhere is that more evident than here in Texas.
It's long been apparent that the United States as a whole is far behind when it comes to women's equality. Last year, the World Economic Forum released its Gender Gap Index, ranking nations' performance on a variety of equality indicators, such as economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment. The US ranked 23rd on this list, behind countries like Denmark, Cuba, and Lesotho.
Now, a new study has found that Texas is one of the worst states in the country for women's equality, coming in at 47 out of 50. Texas women are falling further behind men in a number of categories, from pay to health to education.
To examine gender disparities across the US, social media and research group WalletHub ranked each state based on 10 metrics that “range from the gap in the number of female and male executives to the disparity between women's and men's life expectancy to the imbalance of their political representation.” Of these 10 metrics, Texas ranked in the bottom half of states on seven of them:
- Women's Equality in Texas
– 26th – Earnings Gap
– 47th – Executive Positions Gap
– 43rd – Educational Attainment Gap
– 26th – Minimum-Wage Workers Gap
– 44th – Unemployment Rate Gap
– 34th – Life Expectancy at Age 65 Gap
– 27th – Political Representation Gap
Texas lowest rank was on the number of female executives, coming in at 47th in the nation. We're also in the bottom 10 when it comes to the unemployment rate for women, and the gap in educational attainment between men and women (measured by the number of residents aged 25+ with a bachelor's degree or higher).
Texas' economic and educational gender disparities are especially notable when compared to the rest of the nation. Nationwide, women earn 60% of all undergraduate degrees, but in Texas, more men than women are earning bachelor's degrees. Additionally, more than 60% of all minimum-wage workers in Texas are women. Texas' minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is not a living wage, and lawmakers have no plans to change that anytime soon–meaning Texas women will continue to struggle to get by.
There are many reasons why Texas women are falling behind. We've still got the highest uninsured rate in the nation, and with Rick Perry's refusal to cooperate with the Affordable Care Act, Texans will face increasing difficulties with accessing medical care. Texas women, especially poor and rural women, are going to face even more challenges to health access as more of HB 2 goes into effect.
When it comes to education, school budgets have been slashed, and Texas Republicans are pushing for even more cuts to public schools.
And it's unlikely the pay gap in Texas will close anytime soon, either. Last year, Rick Perry vetoed the Texas Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and he still thinks equal pay is “nonsense.” Meanwhile, Greg Abbott's surrogates are on the campaign trail saying Texas women are “too busy” for equal pay, and Abbott himself has a record of paying his female staffers less than male employees.
There is hope–this year's Democratic ticket features strong women across the board who are dedicated to fighting back against inequality. With greater representation, Texas women can make strides to alleviate the many disparities we face. This Women's Equality Day, the facts are clear–our state is failing Texas women, and we must do better.