Skip to content

SACRAMENTO – California women, and especially women of color, face persistent barriers to accessing economic security, physical and mental health care, and representation in elected positions that greatly improve their lives, the well-being of their families and communities, and the state’s economy, according to a new resource from the California Budget & Policy Center.

The Budget Center released its updated California Women’s Well-Being Index, an interactive online tool that provides a multifaceted statewide look and breakdown by all 58 California counties of how women are doing in their communities. The Index pulls together an array of measures for women and shares data by race and ethnicity, including health, personal safety, employment and earnings, economic security, and political empowerment data.

“Still today, we see that gender and racial discrimination are hurting California women – even with statewide policy advancements in recent years such as expanded paid family leave and funding for child care that are particularly important for women,” said Kristin Schumacher, creator of the California Women’s Well-Being Index and Senior Policy Analyst with the California Budget & Policy Center. 

Among the statewide findings from the Index: Latinx and Native American women across California face particularly acute disparities when it comes to earning a living wage, accessing health care, buying healthy food, staying safe, and being elected to members of their local governments. Regionally, women living in counties in the San Joaquin Valley, Northern Sacramento Valley, North Coast, and in the Inland Empire fare worse compared to women in other regions of the state.

The data and information in the Budget Center’s new Index by race, ethnicity, county, and our own stories show that lacking access to quality health care and child care, not having financial resources to turn to in crisis, and still being kept out of decision-making at many levels of government all points to where support and investment is needed to break down gender and racial barriers and help women thrive in California,” Schumacher said. 

A snapshot of data and findings that can be found in the Index:

California women lack access to health care. Race, ethnicity, and region exacerbate these challenges for women and their families. 

  • 1 in 10 women in California do not have health insurance. 
  • 17% of Latinx women do not have health insurance compared to just 5.6% of white women.
  • Nearly 13% of women in Los Angeles County lack health insurance coverage, placing the county in the bottom five in terms of insured women.
  • In Monterey County, 14.4% of women are uninsured compared to 10.3% statewide.
  • Roughly 1 in 3 Pacific Islander and Native American women did not receive adequate prenatal care  35% and 32.1%, respectively.

California women are blocked from earning a living wage or affording the cost of living. A woman’s race, ethnicity, and where she lives further obstruct her economic security.

  • Nearly 4 in 10 women in California earn low wages. 
  • More than half of Latinx women earn low wages (52.6%) nearly double the rate for white women in California (27.5%). 
  • In Santa Clara County, 45.9% of women earn low wages the highest rate in the state. 
  • The median earnings for Latinx women working full-time, year-round were just 42 cents for every dollar earned by white men in California. 
  • Overall, women working full-time, year-round in California earn just 88 cents for every dollar men earn. The wage gap is the greatest in Calaveras County where women earn just 70 cents for every dollar men earn. The wage gap is the smallest for women in Napa County who earn 95 cents for every dollar men earn.
  • In Madera, Kern, and Fresno counties the annual cost of child care is more than 90% of the typical single mother’s income 98.7%, 94.0%, and 91.6%, respectively. 

California women are kept out of decision-making about their lives and communities at the local and state levels of government.

  • Overall, women make up just 32% of the seats in the California Senate and Assembly. 
  • In 22 counties, women are not represented by women in any of the state Assembly or Senate seats for the county. 
  • Asian and Pacific Islander women make up 7.6% of the state population, but only one seat in the state Legislature is filled by a female representative identifying as Asian or Pacific Islander.
  • Roughly 1 in 3 city council members in incorporated cities in California are women (34.9%). 
  • Women make up only 27% of all seats on County Boards of Supervisors. 

The Index is being released when state and federal leaders must consider policy and budget investments for people and communities, and how to support millions of Californians who have lost jobs and income, cannot safely return to work, do not have access to child care, and are supporting children in distance learning. A recent report by the Budget Center found that at the worst point of the recession so far, 1 in 4 women were out of work and the unemployment rate reached 20% or more for Asian, Black, Latinx and other Californians of color. Meanwhile, state leaders have yet to propose revenue and borrowing policy proposals to adequately address the ongoing needs of the state, local communities, and Californians.

View the Index:

About the Budget Center’s California Women’s Well-Being Index: The Women’s Well-Being Index is a multifaceted, composite measure that consists of five “dimensions”: Health, Personal Safety, Employment & Earnings, Economic Security, and Political Empowerment. Each dimension is composed of six indicators that have been standardized and combined to create dimension scores, on a scale from zero to 100, for each of California’s 58 counties. The five dimension scores have been combined to create an overall Women’s Well-Being Index score for each county.

About the California Budget & Policy Center: The California Budget & Policy Center engages in independent fiscal and policy analysis and public education with the goal of improving public policies affecting the economic and social well-being of Californians with low and middle incomes. Support for the Budget Center comes from foundation grants, subscriptions, and individual contributions.


Media Contacts

Kyra Moeller
Communications Strategist

Stay in the know.

Join our email list!