AUSTIN (KXAN) — A report released by the Women’s Fund at Austin Community Foundation (ACF) on Wednesday provides a snapshot of the status of women in Central Texas, and makes a startling claim: per dollar, women here make 40% less than men, nearly double the national pay gap of 20%.
The report is titled “Women’s Issues are Community Issues” and was created with data from The University of Texas at Austin’s RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service CONNECT Fellows program. The study also used publicly available datasets.
Other key takeaways from the study include:
- Women’s labor force participation has not returned to pre-COVID numbers
- Increased barriers around reproductive health make it harder for women to decide their health and family size
- Women outpace men in educational attainment
- Travis County has the highest number of childcare deserts
Meagan Anderson Longley, vice president of community impact at ACF, said that the report is a key step in the organization’s mission of closing the “opportunity gap” for women.
“What we know is that if you invest in women, you can alleviate poverty across the community,” Longley said. “One of the really interesting paradoxes that emerged in the report is around incredible gains that women have made in education, which we have long understood to be a pathway out of poverty, and yet, even though women are outpacing men and their educational attainment, we still have that pay gap when we’re out in the labor force.”
That gap, Longley said, is responsible for 33% of Central Texas women making under 200% of the federal poverty line. For single women, this is an annual household income of less than $40,000.
Longley’s perspective on the pay gap is that “systemic issues related to gender” in the U.S. are the cause.
“If you start lower, it’s harder to ever catch up,” Longley said. “As women, we’re bearing a disproportionate burden of care both for children and for elders. When you reenter [the workforce], you’ve had a gap, your salary haven’t kept up. These compounding factors leave women at a disadvantage when it comes to their salary negotiations and in the labor force.”
While the report focuses primarily on gender, it also examined the impact of race; across the data, Black and Latina women are paid less, more precariously housed and are more burdened by student loan debt.
“I hope it’s an asset for the community, I hope that people will read it and understand that while for many people in Austin, [it] is a wonderful place to live. That’s not true across the board,” Longley said. “Life is a little bit harder than it is for others. And so to bring the truth of the data in line with the experience of people in Austin is a really powerful way to understand our community.”
Read the full report below: