Good news and bad news on Missouri's gender gap

Mar 8, 2012

In Missouri, women still earn just 74 cents to the dollar, compared to men – one of the worst ratios in the nation. But a report released yesterday also has some good news on gender equality in Missouri, especially in higher education. 

First the bad news.

"I was shocked by the high percentage of women living in poverty," said Margaret Easton, board president of the Women's Policy Alliance, which released the report. "Thirty-six percent, that's over a third." 

Thirty-six percent of women in the state live in poverty, defined as income below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. That's compared to 31 percent of men who live in poverty.

Ready for the good news?

"The bright spot is the women who are graduates with a higher ed. degree, whether it's from a post-secondary technical college, a community college, a four year college or university, are reporting they are making 90 cents, 90 percent of what a man makes," said Nancy Wegge another board member. "Not a hundred percent yet, but 90 cents is better than 74 cents."

That's especially good news because more women are also going to college. In fact, more women than men are now getting higher degrees: one and a half women graduate for every man.

The report was released at a press conference in the state Capitol, a building where the gender gap remains wide: women lawmakers comprise 18 percent of the state Senate, and 25 percent of the House.

Women make up 51 percent of the state's total population.