Women make up half the population in Texas and hold a significant stake in the Texas workforce—including 63 percent of mothers who work. Still, Texas women continue to lag and face challenges when it comes to key indicators of economic security, according to a new report from Texas Women’s Foundation.
Key findings of the study reveal that women are the face of poverty in Texas, earn less than their male counterpoints in every single occupation; and that the state is experiencing a generational shift where women of color are the majority.
Although the report reveals that women in Dallas County are—by leaps and bounds—closing the gender wage gap at a better rate than Hidalgo, El Paso, Travis, Harris, Tarrant, Lubbock, and Smith counties, they still earn nearly $2,600 a year less than men. Tarrant County nearly tops the list with a pay gap of $9,708.
Texas Women’s Foundation released today its Economic Issues for Women in Texas—a study based on research conducted by Every Texan—formerly Center for Public Policy Priorities. Sources include U.S. Census Bureau data, federal and state agency data, studies by policy organizations, and academic research.
The Texas Women’s Foundation report examines both policies and practices at the state level while identifying areas where innovation and investment can help strengthen women and their families, explained president and CEO Roslyn Dawson Thompson.
“To illustrate the findings of the study, we turned to the lived experiences of a diverse group of Texas women,” Dawson Thompson said. “Their stories are different—from an immigrant who fled an Iraqi war zone to further her education in the states to a new mother struggling to pay for health care, to a single mother needing affordable child care while working and finishing school. And yet, they all share a common goal: to create a better life for themselves and their families. These real-life stories reflect the experiences of thousands of other Texas women who face the same realities of financial insecurity.”
Dena L. Jackson, Texas Women’s Foundation COO told D CEO, the gender wage gap is a complicated issue, and could not exactly say why Dallas is doing better than other Texas counties—but did point at a few possibilities. For example, she said it can vary based on the types of industry in a community. As shown in the report, the wage gap varies in different occupations.
For instance, Jackson said the Foundation’s 2014 report showed large variances within Tarrant County and surrounding counties due to high wages made by men working in Barnett Shale versus much lower wages earned by comparable women in those communities who were working in early education and foodservice.
Higher education levels are a protective factor against poverty, however, the report finds that the gender wage gap persists even among college-educated men and women.
Since Texas Women’s Foundation began reporting on educational attainment (Economic Issues for Women in Texas, 2014), women of all races have been more likely to both enroll in and complete Texas higher education than their male counterparts.
Despite Texas women being highly educated, with 1.4 times as many women as men completing public college in 2018, they still earn less than men in every single occupation.
The effect of women being paid less than men for the same work is significant over a lifetime and impacts future generations.
For example, women with a high school education make 66 percent of the annual income of a man with the same education. Women with a Bachelor’s degree make 73 percent of the income of men with the same education. And women with a graduate or professional degree make 67 percent of the income of men with the same accomplishments.
Societal gender norms play a big part in those numbers, according to the report.
The gap between what men and women earn varies significantly based on the type of job. The report found that men and women are paid nearly the same in the social service sector, working as counselors, health educators, or social workers. The gap between men and women is the largest in the sales sector, working in advertising, marketing, real estate, and financial services.
In Texas, there are no job categories where the median wage for women is over $75,000. The report shares that 60 percent of women work in jobs that pay a median wage of less than $35,000. And while it is easy to assume that women earn less because they work part-time or seasonally, the report shows that among full-time workers in Texas, women earn $10,136 less per year than men on average—women basically work for free the final two months of the year.
To address gender wage gaps, Texas Women’s Foundation advocates policy recommendations. State policies and businesses can strengthen equal pay for equal work policies, especially for women of color, as well as establishing paid family and medical leave program that supports workers, both men and women, during pregnancy, adoption, or extended periods of medical care.
Click here to access the full report.