Indiana was given a D for the economic status of women by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research this March.
The institute gives each state a report card on Employment and Earnings, Political Participation, Poverty and Opportunity, Health and Well-Being, Reproductive Rights and Work and Family.
The highest score received was a C- in Political Participation, which ranks Indiana 20th in the country, and the lowest was an F for Work and Family, which is the worst score of any state. Overall, Indiana was ranked 43 out of 50 states and Washington, D.C. for the rating of the best state for women.
Lucy Battersby, director of intersectional outreach for the IU Feminist Student Association, said seeing these statistics was not surprising, and she was especially concerned about the F for Work and Family.
“There is a common assumption that the pay gap and a lack of women in managerial positions is a women’s problem," Battersby said. "But if women live in a state where they have less opportunity, then it’s a problem for everyone."
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research is a think tank which focuses on analysis of policies' effect on different genders. Their project, Status of Women, has focused on data about women and family on local, state, national and international levels, according to the institute's website. They produce data for every state and Washington, D.C. each year.
Political Participation is based on many factors, including the number of women in office, the number of women registered to vote and the number of women who voted. Indiana also received a D in Poverty and Opportunity, a D+ in Reproductive Rights and a D+ in Health and Well-Being.
Erin Macey, policy analyst for Indiana Institute for Working Families, said she feels the F on Work and Family is because of a lack of policy changes.
“Indiana has focused on being a very business-focused climate,” Macey said. “The state doesn’t put many requirements on these businesses, and many people do not even have a chance to take sick days.”
Battersby said she believes that a large part of creating policy change requires people to call their legislators and for women to use their voices.
“If I could tell lawmakers in my state, across the nation, anything, I would let them know that denying women equal opportunity is counterintuitive not only in this state, but to the nation as a whole,” Battersby said. “They need to make women’s economic status, well-being and education a priority.”
Work and Family is based on factors including paid leave legislation, a child care index and elderly care index.
Many places do not offer paid parental leave or paid sick days. Only four states — California, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island — currently offer paid family leave, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ website.
Several bills were drafted, both in the Indiana House and Senate, about pregnancy discrimination and accommodations, paid leave and equal pay within the past year.
Senate Bill 93, which is for fair pay in employment; Senate Bill 309, which requires the department of insurance to establish a family leave program; House Bill 1388, which requires certain employers to provide paid sick days; and House Bill 1344, which prevents employers from discriminating against people with conditions relating to pregnancy and childbirth, are all currently undergoing the legal process to become laws.
Macey said she believes if the bills become laws, they will help Indiana change its grade in Work and Family.
“I think it’s really important that families share their stories and contact their lawmakers,” Macey said. “Lawmakers hear from different groups all the time, and families need to be one of those groups.”
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