A new report shows that women in Kansas are more likely to have a college degree and are much more likely to have jobs than women in other states.
But they are more likely to live in poverty and less likely to be managers in their professions.
"It's a real puzzle," said Ann Cudd, director of women's studies at Kansas University. "They're working and getting an education and not getting status and management positions."
Cudd was co-chair of the Kansas task force of the Institute for Women's Policy Research, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that is sponsoring similar studies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The institute's report was released Thursday.
The task force also included Loretta Pyles, a KU student in social welfare; Barbara Ballard, associate vice provost for student affairs; and Almas Sayeed, a former KU student now studying in Israel.
Kansas' report shows the state averages a C in women's issues, compared to ideals established by the institute. It ranks highest -- eighth in the nation -- in health and well-being for women. It's lowest ranking -- 34th -- is in reproductive rights.
The task force recommended Kansas establish a commission on women to address issues such as the wage gap between men and women. Women made only 72 percent of the wages of men in 1999, according to the report. Kansas ranks 25th in that statistic.
According to the report, 65.7 percent of Kansas women work. Only seven states have a higher percentage of women in the work force.
But Kansas ranks 33rd for women in managerial positions, with 29.8 percent.
Cudd said a lack of affordable child care may be one reason why women didn't work as often as men and were less likely to climb the corporate hierarchy.
Cudd attributed the low grade in the area of reproductive rights to restrictive abortion laws and the state's lack of a law requiring insurance providers to include prescription contraception and infertility treatments in health care plans.
Other highlights of the report:
- Kansas ranks 19th in the United States for percent of women in elected office, 21st for percent of women registered to vote (67.8) and 27th for percent of women who voted in 1998 and 2000 (51.7).
- The median income for women is $25,344, which is 30th in the nation.
- Kansas ranks 22nd for percent of women with at least a bachelor's degree, with 18.4 percent.
- The state ranks 22nd for percentage of women-owned businesses, at 25.6 percent.