The one state where a gender pay gap will live for another century


Source: Institute for Women’s Policy Research
Source: Institute for Women’s Policy Research. The U.S. gender wage gap is expected to close in 2058. The map shows how many years faster or slower the wage gap will close in each state compared with the U.S.

Wyoming is home to a yawning and enduring wage gap between men and women’s pay, according to data highlighted Tuesday for Equal Pay Day.

The Cowboy State has the longest expected wait within the U.S. for women workers to earn the same as men, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research reports.

Wyoming’s gender wage gap — the difference in earnings between full-time, year-round women and men adult workers — is projected to close in 2159, says IWPR, a Washington-based think tank. So, it’ll be 143 years until Wyoming women may make the same money as men.

As seen in the chart, that span is 101 years longer than for the country as a whole. The U.S. pay gap is expected to close in 2058, in about 42 years from now.

Wyoming’s wait period eclipses those in other states. The No. 2 longest wait is in Louisiana, where the gap is seen closing by 2106 (90 years from now and 48 years longer than the U.S.). And the No. 3 longest wait is in North Dakota, where the gap is seen closing in 2104 (88 years from now and 46 years longer than the U.S.).

The industrial makeup of these areas could be behind the pay-gap trends. Mining, which pays relatively well (the sector’s annual mean wage is $63K vs $48K among all U.S. occupations), is a dominant industry in Wyoming. Women make up about one-in-seven jobs within the U.S. mining and logging industries.

Woman’s Work has written before about ongoing inequity in the workplace. Women’s earnings are about 80% of men’s among full-time workers. They need to increasingly enter well-paid jobs and industries to make as much as men. But currently women dominate the most common low-wage occupations, such as childcare workers and home health aides.

At the other end of the inequity spectrum among states, the gender wage gap is expected to close the fastest in Florida — by 2038, or 20 years ahead of the U.S. In both California and Maryland, the gaps are expected to close by 2042, or 16 years before the U.S.



Diversity in progressive movements part 1: The problem with calling for an “intersectional approach”


I’ve spent close to two decades working in progressive movements to advance social justice in the context of reproductive rights, HIV/AIDS, women’s rights, and international development. Throughout, diversity and representation within the U.S.-based organizations and transnational movements I have worked with and for have been seemingly intractable challenges. The largely white, highly educated, (upper) middle class leaders of mainstream women’s and progressive organizations and movements, for example, engage in some genuine hand-wringing about the lack of women of color, young women, positive women, women from the Global South, and [insert factor(s) of marginalization here] women in their membership, not to mention leadership and governance. They’ve even spent a lot of money on “diversity” initiatives—retreats, trainings, organizational change consultants and coaches, vision statements, and (my personal favorite) branded tchotchkes like lanyards and stress balls promoting said initiatives.

And still, nothing really changes. Take, for example, the forceful commentaries of reproductive justice advocates such as Sister Song’s Monica Simpson, Kris Ford of the Women’s Health and Justice Initiative, and acclaimed race, gender, and law scholar, Dorothy Roberts, whose recent critiques of the narrow construction of the U.S. pro-choice movement span more than two decades. Or the seminal writing and analysis of Gita Sen, Caren Grown, and Peggy Antrobus captured in Development Crises and Alternative Visions, written more than 30 years ago and still entirely relevant today. And Chandra Mohanty’s 1986 critique of Western feminists’ construction of Third World women, which she revisited with many of the same themes twenty years later.

For those of us who exist outside “the establishment,” we often speak of how our organizations and movements need to adopt an “intersectional approach*” in order to recognize and address the way that multiple identities, including, for example, race and class—not simply biological sex—shape the many and varied experiences of discrimination and resistance within what is often treated as a singular category of “woman.” In theory, not only would this foster more diverse participation and representation in our ranks, but also broader political agendas that speak to the realities of all women, not just those of straight, middle class white women who are the face and voice of mainstream second-wave liberal feminism.

But to be clear, it’s less the marginalized voices among us who need to adopt an “intersectional approach,” given that we actually experience it first hand, than the leaders of established, mainstream progressive organizations. As such, we are essentially hoping and/or asking for something over which we, being excluded from that very leadership, have very little influence or control. In turn, the problem is at least three-fold. First, it relies upon people who may not even be aware of or willing to acknowledge their own privilege to understand the concept of intersectionality. Assuming that barrier is overcome, then those same people must know how to translate the concept into practice, a task that bedevils even the best theories and analytical constructs (the difficulties serving as a convenient excuse for not doing anything). Finally, adopting something new requires action; a conscious choice to relinquish the comfort and familiarity of the status quo, including the unearned benefits of our own privilege.

It’s a frustrating place to find yourself, though not without its own benefits. Being “other” is often an elixir for building solidarity and resistance—my closest friendships and alliances have been built around shared, intersectional experiences of living on the margins: invisible and silenced despite (or in spite of) the valuable skills, knowledge and experience you have gained via your social location. Being “other” can provide access to radical subjugated knowledge, ways of seeing and doing that are more inclusive, authentic, democratic, and just.

So, it comes down to, how do we find/claim space to apply this knowledge? Space that has resources, visibility, and reach, in order to make a difference? That will be the subject of part 2 of this essay.


*A concept put forward by UCLA law professor, Kimberlé Crenshaw, to make visible the multiple identities that women of color occupy—based not only on gender, but also race, class and otherwise—and which have often been rendered invisible within the mainstream women’s movement in the U.S.

International Women’s Day: Remember Berta Caceres


Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 9.58.10 PM
Source: Goldman Environmental Prize

Please take a minute to read about Berta Caceres—a woman, an activist, a mother, an environmentalist, a leader, and so much more—who was murdered on March 3 in Honduras. Ms. Caceres founded the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) , an organization and movement representing 200 Lenca communities in the western Honduran states of Intibuca, Lempira, La Paz, and Santa Barbara. She fought for and died defending indigenous peoples’ territories, rights and way of life against corporate-driven, state-sanctioned efforts to seize control of and profit from the earth’s natural resources.

Make no mistake, Ms. Caceres’ death was not a random act of crime and is not an isolated incident. All over the world, entire communities are being violently displaced by private enterprises seeking to profit from consumer-driven demand for raw materials—timber from forests; hydropower from rivers; minerals and metals for consumer electronics; fossil fuels; land for sugar, palm oil, biofuels and other agricultural commodities. And women like Berta are literally giving their lives fighting back.

Ms. Caceres’ life and death are not exotic, far-away events from which we can separate and distance ourselves. We are all part of an unsustainable consumer-driven global economy that is aided and abetted by unfair laws and policies, trade rules, monetary policy, and our own lifestyles.

I know no one likes a lecture, but I’m sick of having to measure my words for fear of insulting peoples’ sense of entitlement to consume as much as they desire without acknowledging the true human, environmental, and social costs of their choices.

Learn more:

Berta Caceres, environmental activist murdered, The Guardian

WoMin: African Women Unite Against Destructive Resource Extraction

The Global Land Grab – A Primer

2015 podcast by Liz Ford for The Guardian newspaper on women human rights defenders

Women out-earn men in these jobs

Among the hundreds of detailed occupations tracked by the U.S. Census Bureau, women out-earn men in less than 10, the government reported Thursday.

The out-earningest job: tour and travel guide. Women in this occupation make about 115% of their male counterpart’s earnings, according to median data for full-time, year-round workers in 2014.


Looking at the jobs for which women make less than men (that’s most of them), there appears to be a large pay gap for occupations that deal with money. Census reports that women working in certain financial specialties make 54% of their male counterpart’s earnings.



Pay back your privilege with Equipay!

dinner with friends

Thanks to our friend Mark for forwarding this  Washington Post article on Equipay  – a hysterical app-in-the-making that helps friends divvy up their dinner bill, taking into account how institutionalized sexism and racism shape each diner’s income and earning power in the U.S. According to their website, Equipay “doesn’t split the bill equally–it splits it equitably,” and “when dining out with a high privilege group, Equipay automatically adds an EquipayItBack Surcharge…” Not exactly sure where they’re going with that, but I’m in.

Whether it’s wicked clever comedians and/or Beyonce, I firmly believe that humor and pop culture are some of the best ways to get us talking–really talking–about inequality and injustice. And I’m not just referring to politicians and the media.  I’m talking about you and me–talking about our own, sometimes conflicting, sometimes reinforcing sets of  privileges that we benefit from every day (or not)–the stuff like getting more or less airtime in a meeting; whether most people know how to pronounce your name; living in a safe, walk-able neighborhood; or figuring out how to respond to your kid when she asks, slightly worried, whether her skin is going to get dark like yours.

In addition to generating some deep thoughts, I’m pretty sure this app is going to rock my world because a) I’m not the type of Asian that can solve complicated math problems in her head, and b) I’m pretty sure someone’s gonna eventually have to buy me dinner…



Women and Guns — Marie Claire Reports on Conflicts, Danger

Source: NORC at the University of Chicago

Marie Claire has just published a project about women and guns, describing its series as a look at the “conflicted, dangerous, and empowering truth.”

The accessible piece focuses on a wide variety of topics, such as women in gangs, women’s views on guns and gun ownership, and how the NRA is reaching out to women. A substantial pool of women own guns: About one-in-10 women personally own a firearm, according to a 2015 report from NORC at the University of Chicago.

Here are a few bits from Marie Claire’s work that jumped out at me:

** “Joining a gang isn’t a choice—it’s a default,” Marie Claire writes about the rise of girl gangs.

According to a 2013 FBI report, estimates say at least 10 percent of gang members nationally are women.

“All-female gangs are on the rise in many jurisdictions, as well as, female participation and full-fledged memberships within male-dominant gangs are steadily escalating,” the FBI says. “Female gang members typically support male gang members, serving as mules for drugs, couriers for weapons, and gathering intelligence for the gang, although, many are taking more active roles by serving as soldiers or co-conspirators. Female gang members in some jurisdictions are forming their own gang sets and commit violent crimes comparable to their male counterparts.”

** On the NRA: “In the past few years, the NRA’s messaging has developed a distinctly female tone, actively courting women members across ages and gun literacy levels,” Marie Claire writes.

Of note, the narrowing gap for the firearm-ownership rates between men and women (seen in the above chart) is due to men becoming increasingly less likely to own a gun, NORC says.

** On domestic violence: “For women, gun violence happens at home. The most common threat doesn’t come from a stranger. It comes from the person you sleep next to.”

** About personal safety and race: “As a woman, I always have to think about safety. It’s there when I am walking to my car late at night, when I’m in a hotel room in an unknown city, as I lock up my apartment before bed, while strolling through the park… As a black woman, my concerns about safety are multiplied by the nature of my skin. I am forced, increasingly, to worry about police officers who turn their guns, all too often, on unarmed black people,” writes Roxane Gay (@rgay).






Spoiler alert: Valentine’s Day buzzkill…but you’ll thank me for it

ID-100227254Image courtesy of farconville at

Lest you think we’re not here to brighten up your day and make your life easier, here are a few links curated especially for Valentine’s Day. As yet another consumer-driven holiday is upon us, take a few minutes to learn about the women and supply chains that enable us to shower our beloveds with flowers, candy and bling…because nothing says “I love you” like labor exploitation, conflict and environmental carnage!

Flowers and chocolate — “Women toiling in greenhouses in the flower region of Bogotá frequently earn less than $1 a day and endure exploitative working conditions,” according to a 2014 piece in The Guardian citing War on Want, an anti-poverty charity.

Lingerie – Quinne Meyers of The Lingerie Addict writes, “…[The] human aspect is especially important in lingerie manufacturing, where a hand-operated machine or someone with a simple needle-and-thread sews embellishments like tiny bows and cut-out lace. These details are popular on even the most budget-friendly garments, which can lead to factory workers earning well under a living wage … garment workers manufactured every single piece of lingerie we own, regardless of cost. These workers even make the bow-embellished five-for-$25 panties easily picked up at the mall. And when we purchase lingerie from large chain stores and international brands, we typically don’t know anything about the conditions of the factories they use. Is cheap lingerie worth the exploitation of human beings?”

Jewelry–minerals and metals – According to Global Witness, “the mineral trade has funded some of the world’s most brutal conflicts for decades…These resources can enter global supply chains, ending up in our mobile phones, laptops, jewelry and other products…”

And here are a few links and ideas to get you started on your ethical and sustainable Valentine’s Day on…

Free2work – be an informed buyer

DIY Valentines gifts

Find local, handmade gifts on Etsy

You’re welcome.


– Alia

What feminist politics looks like in practice: responding to the Zika virus

Image provider: CDC/ James Gathany

I’ve been accused of being overly abstract (and irrelevant) when pointing out that the personal is, in fact, political. It’s one thing for thoughtful people who have many forms of privilege–being straight, white, male, among others–to discuss racism and sexism in theory-existing somewhere “out there”, but quite another when they are confronted with the very concrete manifestations in their personal lives and relationships.

So here’s an example of what I see as a very positive and constructive application of theory to practice: the feminist response to the Zika virus. I imagine women in the Americas (myself included) being completely perplexed, if not downright terrified, of the recommendations coming from governments to avoid or delay pregnancy–for up to two years in some cases. It’s one thing if you have access to high quality health care, as most people with means do. But a very different story if you don’t.

Access to contraceptives and safe, legal abortion is severely restricted in many of the countries affected by the Zika virus. Violence, including violence against women, can make it difficult, if not impossible, for women to avoid unprotected sex, and in turn, pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (which the Zika virus is suspected of being). And any time states have taken it upon themselves to dictate whether and when to have children, the results have never been good for women. It’s a surefire recipe for abuse and human rights violations, such as coercive or forced sterilization, pregnancy, and termination as well as unsafe abortion.

And what of the right to become pregnant, to have positive pregnancy outcomes for both mother and child, and raise children in a healthy and safe environment? The situation with the Zika virus echoes what’s happening in Flint, Michigan, where parents and caregivers can’t even feed or bathe their children without potential devastating consequences of lead poisoning. The common denominator is that those most affected are poor and minorities, and it’s due to historical, systemic failures of societies to protect the rights and wellbeing of all people–not just the ones with privilege and money.

So back to feminism, this press release issued by the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights and the Latin American and Caribbean Women’s Health Network provides practical advice to governments on a human-rights based response to the Zika virus. Instead of issuing bizarre recommendations that would be difficult for any woman to implement, make sure women have access to comprehensive, high quality sexual and reproductive health care. Make sure we have access to services that will allow us to continue pregnancy if we so choose and the services and resources to address whatever health outcomes we and our children face. Get men involved–tell them to keep it in their pants if they’re worried about sexual transmission and microcephaly. And for God’s sake, stop controlling women’s sexuality and reproductive lives by criminalizing and restricting access to contraceptives and abortion.

It doesn’t make the Zika virus any less scary, but if governments–including the U.S.–took it upon themselves to follow these recommendations, it’d make it a lot easier to cope and make informed decisions about some of the most intimate aspects of your life. That’s what I call a practical application of feminist theory to real life.

– Alia

Women nabbed 77% of jobs growth…


…in January, data released Friday show.

Specifically, the U.S. economy added 151,000 jobs last month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in a truly “eh” result. Women’s employment accounted for 117,000 of those jobs.

Of note, women have made up more than 50% of jobs growth in nine of the 12 months through January, BLS data show.


Ryan Murphy looks to level Hollywood playing field

Ryan Murphy, the creative force behind TV hits such as “Glee” and “American Horror Story,” is looking to level the playing field for directors, according to news reports.

He’s launching a foundation called “Half” that will aim for 50% of director slots on his shows to be “filled by women, people of color and members of the LGBT community,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

In the U.S. women make up about one-third of employed producers and directors, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. These are well-compensated jobs, with a mean annual wage of more than $90,000, almost double an average of about $47,000 across all occupations, BLS says.



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