|Maryland Women Are Tops for Economic Autonomy, Earnings, Report
By Christina Cepero
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the percentage of
women-owned businesses in Maryland. The report by the Institute for
Women's Policy Research said that 29 percent of the businesses in the state were owned
by women, the third-highest rate in the nation.
Capital News Service
Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2004; corrected Nov. 23, 2004
WASHINGTON - Maryland is first in the nation when it comes to women's social
and economic autonomy and second in their employment and earnings, according to
a report released Tuesday.
The report by the Institute for Women's Policy Research also said Maryland
finished in the top third of states when it came to political participation and
But the state got a grade of C for health and well-being, the fifth and final
category rated by the Status of Women in the States report. That grade likely
kept Maryland from being one of the top states for women overall, said institute
President Heidi Hartmann.
Still, the president of the Women Legislators of Maryland welcomed the
results of the report, which has been released every two years since 1996.
"It's nice to be able to have a comparison of how you're doing, to be able to
go back and look at it again," said Delegate Jean Cryor, R-Montgomery, the
women's caucus leader.
"I'm interested in how they're (women) doing economically, in education. What
are their lives like?" Cryor said. "Maryland is a state that is light years
ahead of other states in many ways."
But the state fell short in the health and well-being of women. Despite the
fact that 87 percent of women in the state have health insurance -- good for
18th in the nation -- Maryland was dragged down by high rates of diseases
Maryland had the 42nd-worst breast cancer mortality rate, 39th-worst lung
cancer mortality, 32nd-worst heart disease mortality and 29th-worst diabetes
rates. The state was 14th-best when it came to mental health and finished fifth
The worst score came in the incidence of AIDS: Maryland was 49th, finishing
ahead of only New York state and the District of Columbia. Cryor said the
state's high rate of AIDS cases may be due to the fact that Maryland does a good
job of publicizing and diagnosing the disease.
"Maybe some states don't recognize it," she said. "Other than being a minus,
it could be a plus in that Maryland is recognizing this. It's the same old story
of being willing to look at what the situation is, as opposed to hiding from
African-American women were carrying the brunt of the AIDS cases in the
state, with a rate of 68.2 cases per 100,000 women, well above the national
average of 49 cases. C. Nicole Mason, executive director of the National Women's
Alliance, said that although AIDS education has increased across the country,
black women have not been targeted and this is reflected in the research.
Otherwise, the state did relatively well in the report. Among its findings:
- Maryland moved past the District to grab first place on social and
economic autonomy, but the state still only got a B+ grade. The 92 percent of
women living above poverty in Maryland was second-highest in the nation, and
29 percent of the businesses owned by women was the third-highest in the
nation. The state had the
fourth-highest rate of women with four or more years of college, at 30 percent.
- The state also got a B+ in employment and earnings, trailing only the
District. Sixty-four percent of Maryland women are in the labor force, and 41
percent of them have managerial or professional jobs, the second-highest
percentage in the country. The median annual income of $37,200 for Maryland
working women was just 81 percent of what men earn, but that was still higher
than the national average of 76 percent.
- Maryland got a C+ for political participation, falling from sixth place in
2002 to 11th place this year. While the 65 percent of women registered to vote
was only 33rd in the nation, Maryland had the 16th-highest voter turnout for
women, 54 percent of whom voted in 1998 and 2000. Maryland fell from eighth to
12th for the number of women in elected office, but the state tied with Georgia
for the most number of black women legislators, at 18 each.
- Maryland slipped on reproductive rights, falling from third place -- a
position it had held since 1996 -- to ninth and seeing its grade fall from
A- to B. The report said the percentage of women with access to abortion
providers fell from 85 percent in 2002 to 76 percent in 2004.
Women's groups praised Maryland's standing, but said there is room for
"It's impressive that Maryland and the District of Columbia have been so
successful in advancing issues that are of concern to women and that benefit
women's economic and social well-being," said Allison Kimmich, executive
director of the National Association of Women's Studies. "At the same time . . .
there's always more that we can be doing as a country and as individual states
for the rights of women."
Cryor said the report would not be the last word on women's issues but could
be the start of a discussion.
"Certainly we will look at it," she said. "It may well be that legislation
would come out of it."
Copyright © 2004 University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism
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