Women’s Fund of Rhode Island report highlights barriers to opportunity for women of color

Series of community forums announced to address barriers to opportunity

Rhode Island women of color experience significant barriers to opportunity with respect to wages, education, and affordable housing. That’s the conclusion of a newly released infographic from the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island titled “Rhode Island Women of Color 2018: A Snapshot.” The research was done in partnership with The Economic Progress Institute.

The report’s findings highlight stark disparities for Rhode Island women of color:

  • Educational attainment varies considerably for women of color with 20% of Black women and 13% of Latinas with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • Black and Latina women and girls have two to three times higher poverty rates than their White counterparts.
  • Two in five Rhode Island women work in health care, social assistance or educational services. Nearly half of Rhode Island’s Healthcare support workers are women of color, yet for many, their median wage is much lower than Rhode Island’s median wage. Lifetime wage loss based on current disparities in median wages are nearly twice as much ($1M) for Black women and three times more ($1.2M) for Latina women.
  • Rhode Island homeowners of color spend more of their income on housing than white homeowners, with Rhode Island listed as the 2nd lowest among all states for homeownership rates for households of color.

“While we often hear about the gender wage gap and its subsequent wealth gap for women, this report really puts a spotlight on how deep the inequities go for our sisters of color” said Kelly Nevins, Executive Director of the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island in a prepared statement. “Efforts to increase the minimum wage and ensure fair pay are just a few initiatives that we are working on with community partners. However, more needs to be done. We want to hear from the community as to how best to use the findings of this report.” The report was made possible with funding from the Nordson Corporation Foundation and can be found here.

“This report highlights the lived experience of Rhode Island women of color and the barriers that exist that prevent them from improving their economic security” said Rachel Flum, executive director of the Institute in a prepared statement. “We should all be concerned about these disparities and work together to bring down these barriers for the good of our communities.”

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A series of community forums will be held to share the information and invite ideas about how best to address the inequities. As part of the series, the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island will be hosting a “Cocktails & Conversations: Women of Color Research” on January 30 from 6-8pm at the Tech Collective in Providence. After sharing research highlights, a distinguished panel will discuss their reactions to the findings and possible community responses. Panelists include:

  • Rachel Flum, Executive Director of the Economic Progress Institute
  • Angela Ankoma, Executive Vice President of the United Way of Rhode Island
  • Traniesha West, Community Organizer for Working Families

Sponsored by IGT, the event includes a cash bar and appetizers. Tickets are $15 through Jan. 14 and $20 thereafter. To register, https://research.bpt.me.