Women in California –and around the country—face obstacles of bias, wage gaps and a lack of infrastructure when they are raising families, caring for aging family members and trying to advance in their careers. But there is a path to a fair future.
These are the findings of the seventh annual Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California, from The Center for the Advancement of Women at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles. The center is partnering with Take The Lead’s “50 Women Can Change The World in Media and Entertainment,” with the mission of achieving gender parity in film and television by 2025.
According to the study, Take The Lead is “conducting a leadership and movement-building program to create a network of women with tools for navigating the industry that will serve as a model for closing the gender leadership gap, with multi-pronged approaches to achieving intersectional gender parity in the workforce.”
“I am thrilled we are partnering with Take The Lead and 50 Women,” says Emerald Archer, Director, Center for the Advancement of Women at Mount Saint Mary’s. “Certainly 50 Women Can Change The World is looking to shift the entertainment industry to tell a more diverse set of stories. Their work on how to reimagine power and how to assert that power in an industry so male dominated will help change the paradigm.”
The 2018 report examines issues ranging from occupational sex segregation and gender typing to workforce safety, family-friendly employment policies and the ever-stubborn gender wage gap.
One of the key findings, according to Archer is the cost of motherhood to working women.
“I was gobsmacked by what I learned about the wage gap and what happens to women’s wages when they have children,” she says.
“Studies show that when women grow their families, their future wages suffer,” according to the study. This is what as known as the “motherhood penalty,” or the average decrease of women’s future wages of 4 percent per child. For the highest-earning, most skilled white women, wages fall by 10 percent per child.
“In California, when women are between the ages of 25 and 34, it is when the wage gap widens and they can never catch up,” says Archer. “The wage gap between mothers and non-mothers is astounding.”
In 38 percent of California’s families, the mother is the sole or primary earner. In married family households where both the mother and father are employed, the mother contributes an average of 38 percent of the family income. In 2016, more than half of the women who gave birth were in the labor force.
More than 1.2 million households in California are headed by a single parent with children under the age of 18. More than 800,000 of these households are headed by women. Over one-third of households headed by single mothers with children under 18 years old live in poverty.Over one-third of households headed by #singlemothers with children under 18 years old live in poverty. Click To Tweet
According to the study, in 2016, 80 percent of California’s single mothers with children under the age of 18 years were in the labor force. Single, working mothers face stress induced in the workplace as married mothers do; they also have the added stress of providing the major, if not sole, family financial support, household care and parenting.
Still, some companies such as Patagonia, offer free on-site childcare for employees and offer paid family leave for non-traditional families, Archer says. “At the state level, we need to think about how to create incentives for gender equity initiatives.”
For each dollar earned by white men, Latinas earn 42 cents, African American women earn 59 cents, Asian American women earn 75 cents, and white women earn 78 cents. Beyond the wage gap itself, this report shows that 5 percent of women who work full time and 52 percent of those working part time have earnings below the Federal Poverty Level.
“In terms of the wage gap, California is much better than the national average,” Archer says.
The report details that because of lower earnings, there is less opportunity for women to accrue assets and savings than men. As a result, women own only 32 cents for each dollar men own.Because of lower earnings, there is less opportunity for women to accrue assets and savings than men. As a result, women own only 32 cents for each dollar men own. #wagegap Click To Tweet
In California, the largest percentage of employed women are Latinas at 38 percent, with 37 percent of the employed women being white. Fifteen percent of the working women are Asian-American, and 6 percent are African American. Fifty three percent of all women in the state are employed, with a median salary of $45,489.
But the kinds of work available to women in California are limited by gender.
The study shows that women are over-represented in caregiving occupations such as childcare, secretaries, nursing and elementary school teachers. Women are underrepresented in areas such as politics and private sector leadership.
Ninety-three percent of all working women hold jobs in management, business, science and arts; in sales and office; or in- service occupations. Women tend to be underrepresented in STEM positions.
According to the study, “Stereotypes applied to women in the STEM fields are powerful enough to affect real, negative consequences. Studies demonstrate that “stereotype threat,” or being in a circumstance where a woman is at risk of confirming a negative (and often gendered) stereotype about her group, is enough to induce stress and result in underperformance.”
“I think what we need to do is make the inequities known throughout the state so we can try to make sure that we are doing everything we can for pay equity with transparency and efforts to retain talent,” Archer says.
There is some good news.
Women hold 39 percent of all management positions in California businesses. Nearly half of all financial managers are women and over half or 59 percent of human resource managers are women, the study shows.Women hold 39 percent of all management positions in California businesses. #womenleaders Click To Tweet
Despite the scarcity of women in higher executive positions, especially publicly owned companies, 39 percent of all U.S. firms are owned by women. California has more women-owned businesses than any other state. In 2017, there were 1.55 million businesses in California owned by women. These businesses generate an annual revenue of nearly $226 billion.
And California leads in political representation of women.
Nationally, 19 percent of those serving in the 2017 U.S. Congress are women. Most recently, 35 percent of California’s 2017 delegation to the 115th Congress are women as 17 of the state’s 53 U.S. representatives and both U.S. senators were women.
“A lot of companies have pledged to be upfront about their practices,” Archer says. “We have an opportunity here to make the male dominated sectors more hospitable to women.”