About the Institute for Women’s Policy Research

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women, promote public dialog, and strengthen families, communities, and societies. IWPR works with policymakers, scholars, and public interest groups to design, execute, and disseminate research that illuminates economic and social policy issues affecting women and families and to build a network of individuals and organizations that conduct and use women-oriented policy research.

It is the leading think tank in the United States focusing on the quantitative and qualitative analysis of public policy through a gendered lens. Founded in 1987, IWPR’s reports and other informational resources have informed policies and programs across the country and internationally, in each of its key program areas:

  • Employment, Education, & Economic Change – Employment and Job Quality, Economic Status of Women in the States, Pay Equity and Discrimination, Access to Higher Education and Job Training, Unemployment and the Economy
  • Democracy & Society – The Status of Women and Girls, Immigration and Religion, Women in Unions, Women’s Civic and Political Engagement
  • Poverty, Welfare, & Income Security – Retirement and Social Security, Poverty, Katrina and the Gulf Coast, Welfare Reform
  • Work & Family – Early Care and Education, Family Leave and Paid Sick Days, Workplace Flexibility
  • Health & Safety – Women’s access to health insurance, costs and benefits of preventive health services for women, costs of domestic violence

For more about IWPR, please visit www.iwpr.org.

About the Project

IWPR’s Status of Women reports are a unique source of comprehensive information on women. Since 1996, IWPR has analyzed data on a wide range of indicators at the local, state, national, and international levels, including demographics, economic security, education, reproductive rights, political participation, civic engagement, and access to health care and work supports. IWPR has released reports on each U.S. state and the District of Columbia, several city/area reports, and a series of reports and a toolkit on women in the Middle East and North Africa. Each report offers policy recommendations shaped by the research findings for that state or city/area. Recent state-level reports include The Status of Women & Girls in Colorado, The Status of Women in North Carolina, The Status of Women & Girls in West Virginia, The Status of Women in Connecticut’s Workforce, and “The Well-Being of Women in Utah.” State and federal policymakers, journalists, advocates, and community leaders have used the reports for nearly two decades to make the case for improved public policies for women and families.

Informing Policy: Providing Data to Change Agents

IWPR’s Status of Women research provides data that change agents can use to improve the status of women, which is integral to strengthening economic growth and prosperity for local communities and the nation as a whole. Women’s status in the United States consistently lags behind men’s; despite some progress in recent decades, women earn less than men, experience higher poverty rates than their male counterparts, face specific adverse health conditions, and remain underrepresented in political office across the nation. While these disparities have an impact on all women, certain population groups—including women of color, low-income women, recent immigrants, and women living in rural and inner city areas—are disproportionately affected.

The disparities women face in the United States undermine women’s rights, economic security, personal safety, and health. Data on women’s standing across a range of issue areas are essential to elevating women’s status and promoting the overall well-being of women, families, communities, and society. Advocates, policymakers, and other leaders need reliable information about the status of women to push for policy changes in a variety of ways, including through legislative action, advocacy and outreach, educational initiatives, institution-building, grantmaking, and coalition-building.

Inspiring Change: Creating Tools to Improve Women’s Status

With support from the Ford Foundation, starting in the Spring of 2015, IWPR will release an updated national report on the status of women a and a fact sheet on the status of women in each of the 50 states and District of Columbia, and in early 2016, a report on the Status of Women in the U.S. South. In September 2015, IWPR will release a report on women in unions in partnership with the American Federation of Teachers. The reports are being developed in partnership with an expert advisory committee and explore topics that profoundly affect women across the nation: employment, education, and earnings; economic security and poverty; health and well-being; reproductive rights; violence and safety; and political participation and leadership. The reports will provide disaggregated data to explore how contextual factors such as gender, race/ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, and residence (whether in a metropolitan or nonmetropolitan area) relate to higher or lower status on indicators such as median earnings, the gender wage gap, poverty, educational attainment, and access to health insurance coverage.

IWPR’s new status of women in the states website  will include interactive charts and maps that will make the findings  easily accessible and user-friendly, The website will also provide raw, downloadable data for researchers, journalists, and policymakers to use in their work.

Improving Lives: Making a Difference Across the Country

IWPR’s Status of Women in the States reports have made the case for millions of dollars in additional state and local funding across the United States and have reinvigorated, strengthened, or led to the creation of organizations, councils, or task forces on women in more than 15 states. A few representative examples of the many outcomes of this project include:

  • In 2005, women leaders in Wisconsin formed the nonprofit organization, “Wisconsin Women Equal Prosperity,” in response to IWPR findings in a 2004 report, The Status of Women in Wisconsin. Since its creation, WW=P has helped elect women to local governments, held workshops on domestic violence and employer best practices, and prepared topical primers to be used by advocates throughout the state.
  • In 2008, the Arizona Foundation for Women informed critical state budget decisions using findings from IWPR’s Economic Status of Women in Arizona. In particular, the state received an additional $6 million in domestic violence shelter funding and $9 million for child care subsidy rate increases over two budget sessions. More than six legislators quoted the report in their policymaking efforts. In addition, Arizona’s Fresh Start Women’s Foundation created an HIV program targeting black women based on findings from the same report.
  • In 2013, The Women’s Foundation of Colorado used findings from the recently released Status of Women and Girls in Colorado to raise awareness among policymakers, journalists, community leaders, and other stakeholders of the challenges facing women and girls in the state. The research garnered considerable media attention and served as the basis for a series of dynamic community discussions about women’s status across Colorado that engaged more than 400 individuals interested in working to implement positive changes.