We’re number 49!
Gender equity issues are gaining new momentum in 2016, thanks to a presidential race where the lone woman seems increasingly more dignified and more prepared to serve when compared to her rivals, especially the one who calls women fat and ugly unless the woman at issue is a “young and beautiful piece of ass.”
Although there’s no shortage of critics of Hillary Clinton and her policies, her success in the early primaries and caucuses is a huge win for women in the political world. No longer can it be doubted that women in the United States can lead at the highest level of government as they do in so many other countries.
There are plenty of other glass ceilings to shatter, of course, especially in Nevada where a woman has never won the governorship or a seat in the U.S. Senate. Catherine Cortez Masto may well win a place in history as the first Latina to serve in the Senate, gladdening the hearts of all those who think it’s well past time a woman represented Nevada in the highest legislative body in the land.
While these political women are demonstrating their intelligence and strength of purpose, the news is not as positive for the average woman in Nevada. The latest annual survey of the states and D.C. for women found Nevada near the bottom of the list, with an overall ranking of 49th. Only South Carolina and Louisiana ranked lower.
WalletHub’s analysts chose 15 key metrics to determine which states were performing better for women in 2016, including pay equity, education and health care. Nevada scored poorly, with just 41.82 points out of 100, placing 49th in “Women’s Economic and Social Well-Being” and dead last at 51st in “Women’s Health Care and Safety.”
More specifically, Nevada placed 50th in the nation in the unemployment rate for women and the number of women who are uninsured. We also ranked poorly in women’s preventive health care (48th), the female homicide rate (43rd) and women’s life expectancy at birth (34th).
Experts were asked to comment on the biggest issues facing women today, and nearly all of them mentioned the same concerns: financial stability, the gendered division of labor, and the pay gap—where women are paid just 79 percent of men’s wages. The lack of publicly funded child care and preschool education often forces women into part-time work where they struggle to gain access to benefits such as health insurance and retirement. One expert noted that many women are wondering if they will have to work forever.
Hannah Hartman, an economics professor at Concordia College, targeted the “pink tax” as an issue since prices of similar items of clothing, such as a shirt or blouse, typically cost more if they are made for women. She compared retail products such as razors and found pink ones cost more than grey ones. Women have known this for years, of course, shopping for better quality items at a lower price in the men’s section of department stores.
Several experts mentioned the underrepresentation of women in elected office as a contributing factor to the difficulty women have had in achieving equity and power. They suggested strategies of promoting leadership opportunities for young women and encouraging women of all ages to run for office.
Nevada has never come close to achieving gender equity in its Legislature. According to the annual survey conducted by the Rutgers’ Center for American Women in Politics, the highest percentage of female legislators in Nevada, 36.5 percent, was reached back in 1999. In subsequent years, our percentage dropped as low as 25.4 percent in 2012, inching back up to 33.3 percent in 2015.
Candidates have until tomorrow, March 18, to file for office during the 2016 campaign.
How about it, ladies?