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10 fascinating facts about the status of North Carolina women

With the female vote expected to be a deciding force in this year’s General Election, it’s worth reviewing some of the findings released today in the 2012 Status of Women in North Carolina report.

The report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research [1] includes data on: political participation; health and well-being; employment, education, and earnings; and economic security and poverty.

Among the key findings:

• In North Carolina, women voted at higher rates than men in both the 2008 and 2010 elections. In the 2008 presidential elections, approximately 2,364,000 women (69 percent of eligible female voters) and 2,006,000 men (66 percent of eligible male voters) went to the polls.

• In the North Carolina state legislature, women hold 5 of 50 seats in the Senate (10 percent) and 33 of 120 seats in the House of Representatives (28 percent), resulting in a combined 22 percent of all elected General Assembly seats. This situates North Carolina in 29th place among the 50 states and District of Columbia for its proportion of women in the state legislature and places the state below the national rate for female representation at this level of government. [2]

• More than one-fifth of NC women aged 18–64 lack health insurance coverage. Seventy-nine percent of women from this age group in the state have coverage through some type of plan, compared to 74 percent of comparable men.

• Since 1990, the share of women in North Carolina with at least a bachelor’s degree has increased sharply, from 16 percent in 1990 to 27 percent in 2010. During the same period, the share of women who have not completed high school was cut by more than half, from 30 percent to 13 percent. At the same time, a substantial number of women aged 25 and older in North Carolina (445,700) in 2010 had not completed high school.

• In North Carolina, 32 percent of immigrant women and 36 percent of immigrant men aged 25 and older have less than a high school diploma

• Women aged 16 and older who work full-time, year-round have lower median annual earnings than men. The median annual earnings for women in North Carolina are $33,000 compared to $40,000 for men, a gap of $7,000 per year or $135 per week. [3]

• Households headed by single women with children have the lowest median annual income ($20,393) of all family household types.

• Many women (and men) in North Carolina and the United States lack basic work supports, such as the right to paid parental leave or to paid time off to look after one’s own or a child’s illness. In North Carolina, more than four in ten employed women do not have access to paid sick days for their own illnesses, let alone to take care of sick children.

• In 2010, 17 percent of women aged 18 and older in North Carolina were poor (living in families with incomes at or below the federal poverty threshold. An additional 21 percent of women were near poor (living in families with incomes between 100 and 200 percent of the federal poverty threshold).

• Public programs such as Work First (North Carolina’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called food stamps) play a vital role in assisting families who lack economic security. Many families who live below the federal poverty line, however, do not receive these benefits. In North Carolina, seven percent of families in poverty with young children receive Work First benefits.

To read the 16-page report, click here [4].