Ashley C. Qualls
Know the Facts: N. C. Council for Women Releases the Status of Women in North Carolina Report
Ashley C. Qualls
The Status of Women in North Carolina report was officially released on March 11th 2013 at the Women’s Roundtable in Greensboro, NC. It was the perfect event to celebrate Women’s History Month in North Carolina, but also the perfect venue to address the many challenges that affect women of all backgrounds in the state. The Status Report examines four key aspects of women’s lives: employment and earnings, economic security and poverty, health and well-being, and political participation. There are findings that show much progress within the past two decades, and these successes are to be celebrated; however, women are also battling significant challenges in each of these areas.
Women make up 47 percent of the North Carolina workforce, and 59 percent of women in the state are working. The percentage of minority women in the workforce has increased 10 percent since 1990. When looking at subgroups of women, however, not all are participating in the workforce at the same rate. Of all women with children under five, only 66 percent are in the workforce, whereas 96 percent of men with children under five are working. This illuminates the unique challenge that women with children have in maintaining a work/family balance, and how women are much more likely than men to reduce or cease their workforce participation while raising young children.
In North Carolina, single women with children have the lowest median income of all family types, at just $20,393 annually; and only 12 percent of single mothers in North Carolina receive any cash assistance from the state. Considering the cost of childcare, which average $9,173 for infants and $7,774 for a 4-year-old, this low annual income creates a particularly difficult economic burden for working single mothers.
Women are also at greater risk for certain factors of health and well-being. Women are at much greater risk for experiencing domestic violence and sexual assault than men. In North Carolina’s crisis centers, 84 percent of all domestic violence victims and 89 percent of sexual assault victims receiving services are women. In a national poll, over 50 percent of female NC residents reported having experienced a rape in her lifetime; this is over 6 percent higher than the national average. Experiences of domestic violence and sexual assault can affect women economically, emotionally, and physically. Often, the number of women who need services is greater than the funding available to meet those needs.
As women in North Carolina, we have made amazing strides in certain areas of political participation in recent years. We elected our first female governor in 2008, we have five women in our state’s elective executive offices, and one of our two US senators is a woman. However, women are still underrepresented in our General Assembly and in our US House of Representatives; only 23.5 percent of our state legislators are women, and only 16.1 percent of our US Representatives are women.
As we enter the last week of March with the 2013 Women’s History Month Celebration at Meredith College, my wish is that The Status of Women in North Carolina will continue to reach our citizens and our government & community leaders, inspiring us all to work together to improve the lives of every North Carolinian by improving the lives of women.
Read The Status of Women in North Carolina Report at:
Stay tuned-in to what the Council for Women is doing in your state at:
Ashley C. Qualls
Spring 2013 Intern
North Carolina Council for Women
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Women’s Studies minor, Class of 2013