Published January 28th, 2015 at 4:07 PM
A woman in Missouri working full time earns only 71 cents for each dollar a man earns for the same work. Two-thirds of Missouri seniors living in poverty are women. Women make up 51 percent of the Missouri population, but only 25 percent of the state legislature. These are all statistics that you can find in a report on the status of women in Missouri, released today by the Women’s Foundation in partnership with the University of Missouri’s Truman School of Public Affairs.
“These are not new problems,” said Wendy Doyle, president and CEO of the Women’s Foundation. “We believe that it is our responsibility to take this information … (and use it to) impact systemic change.”
The study focused on five areas of women’s lives: economic and income, education and childcare, health care, economic security and aging, and leadership. The results show that Missouri women are lagging behind Missouri men — and, in many cases, women in other states — in these key areas.
The foundation released highlights from this study last month. Today, the full study and all its data were made available to the public for free online.
Cynthia Atwood-Steinberg is the founder and president of Sounding House, a research firm that conducted focus groups for the study. She said she encountered many low-income women having to make choices like purchasing food or purchasing medicine for their families.
“These women will always put their children’s safety and well being as well as that of other family members ahead of their own,” she said.
Additionally, the study showed that 27 percent of Missouri’s 114 counties lack any accredited childcare facilities, and the state doesn’t have a rating system for childcare.
“Missouri is the only state without a quality rating system in place, therefore Missouri families do not have information to make good decisions for their families,” Doyle said.
One of the goals of the project was to maintain current data and make the data accessible to the public. So, the foundation created an online interactive research hub in addition to a written report. Now anyone can access the data, which will continue to be updated. Users can log into the hub and break the data down by county to see how women are faring in every part of the state.
Many of the low-income women that the study impacts the most, however, may not have Internet or computer access. What then?
“It seems like Internet access may be an issue,” Doyle said. “The Women’s Foundation’s goal, now that the research is completed and was launched earlier this week, is to go out across the state on a tour into communities that may not have this information readily available.”
Jacqueline Schumacher is a policy analyst at the Truman School of Public Affairs. She said the most important thing to remember when looking at this data is that it is based on real, living people.
“I want to remind people today that data are points in time, they’re numbers,” she said. “But behind these numbers, we have honest, working Missouri women trying to make their lives better. I like to call it data with a soul.”
KCPT and Flatland are exploring issues impacting women and girls, as well as potential solutions, in tandem with the PBS documentary series “A Path Appears,” which will air in three parts Jan. 26, Feb. 2 and Feb. 9 at 9 p.m.
One other, and more disturbing aspect to the data concerning day care facilities statewide is that the MO Leg has so far refused to include church-based day care facilities in most oversight schemes. So not only is there no rating system, but in the cases of church-run facilities, no oversight AT ALL.