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New Reports On Women Show Progress and Setbacks In North Carolina

The Status of Girls in North Carolina
Meredith College

Two new reports examine the status of girls and women in North Carolina.  As it turns out, girls are bucking the stereotype. They’ve seen gains in math and science testing.

"Middle school is when we typically think of girls sort of disengaging from science and math," Amie Hess told Frank Stasio in an interview on The State of Things.  Hess is the lead researcher on The Status of Girls in North Carolina. "What we found when you look at the 8th grade end-of-grade testing rates is that girls are right on par with boys.  In some cases, [they are] slightly ahead of boys," she said. 

But for certain girls, the risk of being in poverty is increasing. Hess said that nearly a third of all females under age five live in poverty. "But when you look again by racial and ethnic status, when you look at African-American, Latina, or American Indian young girls, [it's] one in two, 50%," Hess said.  These are staggering figures."

The wealth disparity seen among young girls is reflected in the incomes of adult women.  In 2013, the Status of Women in North Carolina reported that women earn 83 cents on the dollar compared to men.  That is up from 73 cents on the dollar in 1996, but women's wages also vary widely by race.

"The median income for a woman in North Carolina is $33,000 a year," said Beth Briggs, executive director of the North Carolina Council for Women.  "If you are a white woman, it's $35,400.  If you're an African-American woman or an American Indian woman, it's $29,000 a year.  And if you're a Latina woman, it's $24,000 a year.  So that's a significant difference by race." 

Lisa Levenstein, an associate professor of history at University of North Carolina-Greensboro, believes that historical class rifts have become more pronounced as women entered the work force in the 20th century.

"In the past three to four decades, as it's increasingly become the norm for middle class mothers to work full time, what has enabled them to go out into the work force has been, to a good degree, low paid labor done by poor women.  So here I'm thinking about women working in daycares, who are paid extremely low wages, look after the children of women working full time," said Levenstein. 

Hear the full interview above.

Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
Shawn Wen joined the staff of The State of Things in March 2012 and served as associate producer until February 2014.
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