KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Women’s Foundation, in concert with the University of Missouri Institute of Public Policy, released a new study on the status of women in Missouri Thursday morning. The study serves as an update to a 2014 study which explored mostly the same datasets, and the findings reveal progress for Missouri’s women has been mixed.
Emily Johnson, the Institute of Public Policy’s associate director and COO, noted Missouri women who work full-time, year-round now earn 78 cents per dollar a man would earn as opposed to 77 percent from the 2014 study. However, women in leadership positions in the state has fallen. Only 22.3 percent of the 2017 seats in the General Assembly are held by women, down from 25 percent in 2015. Similarly only 19 percent of state prosecutors are women, and there are only two female sheriffs in Missouri.
“Many factors, including pay equity, education, health care, and child care significantly impact women’s lives and their ability to achieve economic equity,” Emily Johnson said of the study.
Wendy Doyle, the President and CEO of the Women’s Foundation, said the research proved work still needed to be done to improve the lives of women. She believes the means to achieve that equality between the genders can be found in equal pay, paid family leave and changing professional licensing laws and regulations.
At the heart of that goal lies more research.
“We want to continue to build awareness of the issues and what the findings are telling us,” Doyle said. “We want to benchmark and to build a baseline to look at progress for Missouri.”
Doyle praised the work of former Gov. Jay Nixon’s administration to institute better policies within the executive branch at ultimately achieving equal pay for women. However, she wants to see more done in the private sector on that front. That 22 percent pay discrepancy between men and women mentioned earlier between full-time, year-round workers accounts for more than $10,000 of yearly income.
Doyle proposed companies perform their own audits of their business practices and use Nixon’s guidelines to make the workplace a better place for women.
“We would like to see corporations take these best practice guidelines and take them into their companies,” she said. “The audit really provides the evidence of looking at the fact in black and white. As corporate leaders can see the data, they can make the leap to develop some solutions.”
Nixon is not the Women’s Foundation’s only powerful political ally in Missouri. Doyle has also worked closely with Rep. Todd Richardson on revamping the state’s professional licensing application system, a bill currently carried by Rep. Elijah Haahr.
The full study can be read here.