A new report analyzing how women and girls in California are faring in areas like healthcare and employment shows some promising statistics, but many say there's still plenty of work to be done when it comes to the wage gap.
Every year, Mount Saint Mary's University in Los Angeles collects data that shows the progress and challenges facing women across the state and releases its Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California.
More than 500 guests gathered at the Skirball Cultural Center last Thursday for the report's presentation.
"This report allows us to come together, share the data, which is critical, ask people to share it with their networks, but it also allows us to come together in conversation, and that's really where the hope come, because the data is pretty sobering," said Mount Saint Mary's University President Ann McElaney-Johnson.
The reports shows the median earnings of California women working full-time increased 14% from 2019 to 2021. Plus, the report shows California is home to 1.5 million women-owned businesses - the most of any state.
The number of women graduating from college has increased by roughly 15% in the last two decades in the U.S.
"What's really interesting looking at the page of the different industries, whether it's healthcare, academic, media, where we're at in terms of gender parity, media fairs the worse, representation on screen and behind," said Asha Dahya, a freelance producer who attended Thursday's event. "[It's] a little bit disappointing because media really shapes culture and how we think about the world."
However, there are still some alarming trends.
According to the report, women made 88% of what men made in 2021 and the gap is larger among different ethnic groups.
"Women are still making 88 cents on the dollar for all men for no matter the occupation for the same work, and that's what's really frustrating," said McElaney-Johnson. "Then when you break that down through race and ethnicity, you start to see that, for example, Latinos are making over $30,000 less a year than white women."
Median earnings for a White woman working full-time in 2021, for instance, equaled $73,059. At the other end of the scale, Latinas earned $40,524.
Nationally, the estimated median wealth of White men is $83,440. That drops to $66,930 for White women and drops to $6,700 and $6,000 for Latina and Black women.
In L.A. County, women with a graduate or professional degree earn more than $50,000 more than those without a high school diploma.
Based on findings, leaders said they want to explore ways that government, businesses and other organizations can make concrete changes.
"The first step of social justice is awareness and once there's awareness, action can be taken," said Mount Saint Mary's University junior Sloane Jacobs. "When we see these numbers and see how alarming they are for all the women of Los Angeles, and globally as well ... we need to make a change."
The reports also indicates women aren't living as long in California. The life expectancy for all California women shortened by almost 2 years from 80.9 years to 79 years and an estimated 38% of women have been plagued by long COVID in the state.
To read the full report, visit Mount Saint Mary's University's website
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