Gender Disparity Is Alive and Not-So-Well; Particularly in Connecticut, Analysis Finds

Connecticut places dead last among the 50 states in the degree of gender gap in executive positions in the workplace and overall workplace environment for women, according to a new analysis prepared by the financial website WalletHub.  The state also ranked in the bottom ten in the “education and health” category, ranking higher – in the top ten – only in “political empowerment,” despite having fewer women in the state legislature than about a decade ago. Overall, the state ranked 28th among the “Best and Worst States for Women’s Equality.”

The challenges present in Connecticut are true – to varying degrees – nationwide.  In 2016, the U.S. failed to place in the top 10 — or even the top 40 — of the World Economic Forum’s ranking of 144 countries based on gender equality, WalletHub reports.

Among the states, the top 10, with the slimmest inequality gap, were Hawaii, Nevada, Illinois, Minnesota, Washington, Maine, North Dakota, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Vermont.  Among the other New England states, Massachusetts ranked #13, New Hampshire was #16, and Rhode Island was #34.  The widest gaps were in Texas, Virginia and Utah.

"Connecticut ranked below average overall mostly because of its rankings for two of the categories we analyzed, Workplace Environment (50th) and Education & Health (43rd),” WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez told CT by the Numbers.  “Connecticut's disparities between women and men are quite pronounced when it comes to the workplace environment. Women earn 23 percent less than men, 9th highest in the country, and Connecticut has the highest gap of women in executive positions. Large differences also appear when looking at higher-income earners, with a 13 percent gap between women and men, and the entrepreneurship gap in Connecticut is at 48 percent, again favoring men."

To determine where women receive the most equal treatment, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 50 states across 15 key indicators of gender equality in three central categories: workplace environment, education and health, and political empowerment  Among the indicators used in the analysis, Connecticut ranked 46th with among the largest educational attainment gap among Bachelor’s Degree holders, 48th in the entrepreneurship gap, 49th in the disparity among higher income wage earners (in excess of $100,000 annually) and 50th with the largest executive positions gap.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, just over one-quarter of Connecticut’s legislators are women, at 27.3 percent, compared with the national average among state legislatures of 24.8 percent.  There are 1,830 women serving in legislatures across the country.  In Connecticut, 42 of 151 House members are women, and 9 of the Senate’s 36 seats are held by women.   Among the states with the highest percentage of women in their legislature are Vermont, Colorado and Nevada with 39 percent, Arizona with 38 percent, and Illinois and Washington at 36 percent.  Connecticut’s numbers have declined since 2009, when a total of 59 women held legislative seats, 8 in the Senate and 51 in the House.

The workplace environment category included data on income disparity, the number of executive positions held, minimum wage workers, unemployment rate disparity, entrepreneurship rate disparity and the disparity in the average number of work hours.

The analysis found that in every state, women earn less than men. Hawaii has the lowest gap, with women earning 12 percent less, and Wyoming has the highest, 31 percent. Connecticut ranked 41st.  Rhode Island has the highest unemployment-rate gap favoring women, with 2.4 percent more unemployed men. Georgia has the highest gap favoring men, with 1 percent more unemployed women. The unemployment rate is equal for men and women in Illinois and Idaho.  In Connecticut’s it’s nearly identical, with the 0.3 percent more unemployed men than women, based on the data reviewed.

Women continue to be disproportionately underrepresented in leadership positions nationwide. According to the Center for American Progress, women make up the majority of the population and 49 percent of the college-educated labor force. Yet they constitute “only 25 percent of executive- and senior-level officials and managers, hold only 20 percent of board seats, and are only 6 percent of CEOs.”  In addition, salary inequity continues, and women are underrepresented in government.

The analysis was released to coincide with Women’s Equality Day, which is observed annually on August 26. The U.S. Congress designated the commemoration beginning in 1971 to remember the 1920 certification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. The observance of Women’s Equality Day also calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality, according to the National Women’s History Project.

Gender Identity in Schools Among Topics at Connecticut School Health Issues Conference

The keynote address “When Boys Will be Girls: Getting A Grip on Gender” will greet attendees – school nurses and school health officials from across Connecticut - attending the 38th Annual School Health Conference on Thursday in Cromwell. “Critical Issues in School Health 2016,” a two-day conference, will have expert presentations on issues ranging from absenteeism to infectious diseases, food allergies to mental health.  But no issue has grown in attention and interest recently than how to respond to LGBT students in the school setting.

The conference is coordinated by the Connecticut chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics with the assistance of the Association of School Nurses of Connecticut.  school-health

The keynote will be given by Robin McHaelen, MSW, founder and executive director of True Colors, a Hartford-based non-profit organization that works with social service agencies, schools, organizations, and within communities to ensure that the needs of sexual and gender minority youth are both recognized and competently met. McHaelen is co-author of several books and articles on LGBT youth concerns, and has a national reputation as a thought leader in LGBT youth concerns, programs and interventions.

In her presentation, titled “When Pink and Blue Are Not Enough,” McHaelen offers suggestions on working with LGBT students, and seeks to increase “understanding, knowledge and cultural competency regarding LGBT students,” while identifying issues of “risk, challenge and strengths specific to LGBT youth.”  She also will point to “opportunities for intervention that will ensure appropriate care within a safe, affirming environment.”

Among the recommendations:  offer gender-neutral bathroom options, always use the patients’ chosen name and chosen gender pronouns, and “recognize that there are additional stressors (and that there may be significant feat on the part of) transgender patients.” logo

McHaelen will be offering a similar presentation at the New England School Nurse Conference, to be held in late April in Mystic, hosted by the Association of School Nurses of Connecticut.  The president of the Association is Suzanne Levasseur, Supervisor of Health Services for the Westport Public Schools.  The New England affiliates include Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.  The conference theme is “Waves of Change, Oceans of Opportunity.”

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students are the targets of bullying, harrassment, and disproportionately high discipline rates at school, researchers have pointed out. But without consistently collected, reliable, large-scale sources of data, it's difficult to track the extent of those problems or the effectiveness of proposed solutions, a group of researchers at Indiana University said in a briefing paper released this week.

Expanding existing federal surveys on youth safety and well-being to include more questions about gender identity and sexual orientation could provide a clearer picture, according to the researchers, noting that “if you don’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”  They suggest addressing the data gap by adding discipline and harassment items to existing health surveys that currently include measures of sexual orientation and gender identity, such as the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.logo

“Although these measures provide more specific information about sexual orientation and in some cases gender identity, they do not provide sufficient information about the specific negative outcomes experienced by LGBT students,” the research paper points out.  They conclude: “the availability of data documenting the experiences of LGBT students is a civil rights concern, and the expansion of data collection efforts to include sexual orientation and gender identity is a critical next step in ensuring the rights of LGBT and all students to participation and protection in school.”

The mission of the Association of School Nurses of Connecticut is to support, assist and enhance the practice of professional school nurses in their development and implementation of comprehensive school health services that promotes students' health and academic success.  The Connecticut Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics has over 600 active members committed to both improving the health and safety of Connecticut's children and supporting those who provide care to these children.