Women who work full time year round earn only 69 percent of men’s earnings in the state, the third largest wage gap in the country. They also are concentrated in a few occupations that tend to be lower paying than male-dominated occupations.
The West Virginia University Department of Geology and Geography and the West Virginia GIS Technical Center have teamed up with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and the West Virginia Women’s Commission to provide a better understanding of gender issues and bring more awareness to the status of women in the state.
Through this collaboration, the groups recently launched the West Virginia Gender Mapping Project website.
The project is designed to inform policy makers, non-profit organizations, researchers and citizens about gender and women’s issues in West Virginia. An interactive map and tables found on the newly launched site show how social and economic indicators such as employment, poverty and marital status are geographically represented in five regions across the state using data from the 2013 report, “The Status of Women and Girls in West Virginia.”
“We have two goals for the project,” said Ann Oberhauser, professor of geography. “First, we want to disseminate this information to policy makers and people involved with non-profit organizations in the state so they can see the problems and work to change them.”
“Second, the data will be useful in academic settings so students and faculty can analyze gender and women’s issues from a geographical perspective.”
In 2012, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research reached out to Oberhauser to help write the report on the status of women and girls in West Virginia. She said that while working with the organization they realized the data could be showcased in a way that helped website visitors better interact with the information.
For instance, visitors interested in learning more about economic security and poverty in the Northern Panhandle can click on that section of the interactive map to bring up this information.
Since the first “Status of Women” report was released in 2002, project organizers said they’ve noticed a positive impact on women and communities. Small business ownership, they said, has grown among women.
The next phase of the project, Oberhauser said, is to incorporate qualitative data into the interactive map through interviews with West Virginians from different regions of the state to highlight individual stories and experiences.
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