Status of Women in North Carolina, 1975-2020
Author: Denise Jones, State Publications Clearinghouse Liaison
North Carolina’s Council for Women was established by Governor Terry Sanford’s Executive Order in 1963. Governor Sanford created an agency that would “advise the Governor, state agencies and the legislature on issues of concern to women.” The Council focused on issues of pay equity, workplace opportunities and representation, education and violence against women. Over the ensuing years, the council has researched and published reports on the status of women in North Carolina.
Women in North Carolina – 1975
In its earlier days, the council was called the North Carolina Commission for the Education and Employment of Women. The commission presented their first comprehensive report, The Status of Women in North Carolina, to the 1975 General Assembly. The report contained statistics and conclusions on topics such as: education, employment, welfare, mental health, labor standards, and women in politics.
Examples of some of their education findings were that although more females completed elementary and high school and more males finished college, the percentage of females receiving doctoral or professional degrees and the percentage of female college faculty were both very small. In employment, women consistently earned less money than men regardless of the job or education level. The report concluded with 8 pages of recommendations for the various topics covered.
Women in North Carolina – 1994
A second report also called The Status of Women in North Carolina, was released in 1994. Now called the Council for Women, their report was a comprehensive study of eight major areas affecting women and their families in North Carolina. The Council recognized that the report would have “increasing historical value – both as a portrait of the past and a measuring stick of progress for the future.”
Women in North Carolina – 2013
The Status of Women in North Carolina 2013 report was a collaboration of the NC Council for Women and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Some of the key findings were that in the 20 years since 1990, North Carolina’s workforce had become more diverse and more educated. Women had achieved an overall higher educational attainment but salaries continue to lag behind those of men.
Employment and Earnings – 2018
Beginning in 2018, the NC Council for Women released the first of four planned reports, The Status of Women in North Carolina: Employment and Earnings. This report examined data and recommended policies to improve the status of women in NC in several key areas. It looked at the status of women in North Carolina in terms of their employment, earnings, and occupations. The report found that the wage gap between men and women was the largest for women of color. Recommendations for improving this and other issues were included in the report.
Health and Wellness – 2019
The second of four in the series released in 2019, The Status of Women in North Carolina: Health and Wellness, looked at data on women’s health, including chronic disease, physical health, violence, and access to reproductive health services. It also identified changes that had come about in women’s health in North Carolina since the 2013 Status of Women in North Carolina report mentioned above.
Political Participation – 2020
The latest report in the series, The Status of Women in North Carolina: Political Participation, examines women’s involvement in the political process in North Carolina and has comparisons to other states and to the United States overall. It includes statistics on voter registration, voter turnout for women, and representation by women in local, state and federal governments – both elected and appointed. Racial and ethnic disparities are also examined.
The final report will focus on poverty and opportunity for women in North Carolina. Look for it in the coming year.