Nationwide study: Not easy being a woman in Alabama


The Institute for Women’s Policy Research recently completed a comprehensive state-by-state survey on the economic and political status of women and it did not portray Alabama in a flattering light.

The state received grades of “D” and below in each of the six chapters of the study, which included categories such as “Employment & Earnings, “Reproductive Rights,” and “Political Participation.”

In the area of “Poverty & Opportunity,” for instance, Alabama received a D-minus. While the statistics show the proportion of women entrepreneurs here is higher than the national average — 28.1 percent compared to 53.5 percent of men, good for 19th in the country — low ranks in rates of health insurance (32nd), educational attainment (46th) and percentage of women who live under the poverty line (46th) dragged down the overall grade severely.

The most controversial aspect of the study focused on access to abortion providers, which the Institute sees as an indicator of sexual and reproductive freedom, a view that many Alabamians, including many women, would disagree with.

Nonetheless, the state was docked in a big way for the following aspects of its body politic, among others: the state’s parental notification and consent laws with regard to abortion, the mandatory waiting period before one is available, a generally pro-life governor and legislature, and a minority of women (41 percent) who live in counties where abortion providers offer their services.

The highest marks the IWPR gave the Yellowhammer state were for “Work & Family” — the state’s relatively low gender gap is workforce participation among those with young children (20.9 percent fewer women than men in that category work) and high “Child Care Index,” which measures access and affordability, buoyed the state’s rankings, edging it past Mississippi, Arkansas, Idaho and West Virginia.

Other select Alabama findings from the 2015 study:

  • 31.5 percent of employed women work in low-wage jobs
  • Men are 2.4 times more likely to work in a STEM field
  • Women earn 76 cents on the dollar compared to men in the state
  • 14 percent of women have diabetes, as well as 13.6 percent of men
  • The state ranked 51st in mental health: women reported 5.6 days of ill mental health per month
  • Heart disease remains a major problem: 184.3 women per one hundred thousand, and 281.8 men, die per annum of the malady.