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COLUMN: Make Indiana better for women



Indiana treats women poorly — at least from a policy standpoint. 

This spring, Indiana received an abysmal report card from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research as part of its Status of Women project, which analyzes how policies affect people differently based on gender. 

Including a D in employment and earnings and an F in work and family, Indiana’s report card shows the state is making life hard on Hoosier women. 

Each of the grades are based on statistical measures of the public impact of a state’s legislation. For the lowest score, work and family, the grade depends on paid leave legislation and indexes for elderly and child care. 

For employment and earnings, Indiana’s D is largely the result of its pay gap. Ranked 48 out of 50 in the nation for gender wage ratio, Indiana women who work full-time, year-round jobs earn just 71.6 percent of what men in comparable positions are paid. 

While you should certainly consult more than one source in your attempts to keep yourself politically informed, organizations such as IWPR are a great place to start. IWPR is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, and its research goes through both internal and external reviews to ensure its reliability and independence. 

For additional research, especially focused on Indiana, IU’s Public Policy Institute promises unbiased research and data-driven, objective, expert analysis, according to its website

Reports such as IWPR’s Status of Women matter because they allow us to see where we stand on issues that matter to us. Indiana’s results are unfavorable, but they should not be surprising given that the state has no laws for equal pay or paid family leave – yet. 

Currently active in state legislature are two bills that could help Indiana improve its IWPR report card. Senate Bill 93 would make it “unlawful… to pay wages that discriminate based on sex, race or national origin for the same or equivalent jobs.” Senate Bill 309 would create a paid family leave insurance program. 

I encourage you to read up on SB 93 and SB 309 and contact your state representatives to express your support. These bills have the potential to improve Hoosier women’s quality of life and to ensure they are treated fairly. 

And speaking of state representatives, primary elections for many of these officials — including 25 seats in the Indiana Senate and all 100 seats in the House — are coming up May 8. While you won’t yet be able to check the voting record for SB 93 and 309, you can make sure to support the officials who authored them. 

As a lifelong Hoosier, I have a complicated relationship with this state. I’m proud to have been born, raised and educated here, but it’s because of that pride that I’m hoping for change. I know we can do better, and we owe it to ourselves to try. 

If we truly want the future to be female, we’re all going to have to vote and make our voices heard.

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