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Santa Monica Women Making Gains But Challenges Persist, Report Finds

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By Jorge Casuso

February 20, 2020 -- The racial composition among women in Santa Monica is becoming more diverse, and women are opening more businesses and closing the gender wage gap, but strides still need to be made.

Those are among the conclusions of a new report prepared for the City's Commission on the Status of Women that was released Thursday. (click here for full report)

Prepared by the Center for the Advancement of Women at Mount Saint Mary's University, the report also found that some women and girls are experiencing "continued hardship."

Women accounted for almost a quarter of the city's homeless population and, while the gender wage gap is narrowing, it remains significant, according to the 2019 Report on the Status of Women and Girls.

The report "provides a portrait of the welfare and standing of women and girls" and "identifies challenges and opportunities facing women in the City of Santa Monica," said Sylvia Ghazarian, who chairs the Women's Commission.

The report focuses on demographics, the "opportunities available for women to work, earn a living, and reach personal and professional goals" and their "wellbeing."

According to the report, 52 percent of Santa Monica’s population is comprised of women and girls, with the majority -- 64 percent -- white.

Of the minority population, 16 percent were Latina, 11 percent Asian American (up from 6 percent in 2015) and 4 percent were black (up from 2 percent). The other 4 percent were multiracial or other.

Three in ten of the women and girls were born outside the U.S., the study reported.

Women have made some strides in the workforce, with the number of women-owned businesses in the City increasing by 6 percent since 2015, the study found.

Still, "the economic impact of women-owned businesses in the city is relatively small," according to the report.

In 2012, the last year for which data is available, there were 7,420 women-owned firms in Santa Monica, or 34 percent of the total, down from 7,864 or 43 percent in 2007.

These firms accounted for about 8 percent of sales revenue in the City in 2012, down from 10 percent in 2007, and contributed roughly 9 percent of wages earned by workers in the city, down from 11 percent, the report found.

Women comprise the majority of the full-time workforce in service occupations as well as in sales and office occupations, but less than one third of the workforce in technology occupations, according to the findings.

Still, women in Santa Monica who work full time earn an average of $76,637, compared to $46,783 statewide.

The report also found that the gender wage gap narrowed between 2013 and 2017. Full-time women workers in Santa Monica earned 78 cents for every dollar earned by men, up from 72 cents in 2013.

The gender wage gap is "significantly worse for women of color, with Latinas who work full time earning 44 cents for every dollar earned by men.

Santa Monica women report greater stress levels and more economic concerns than men, according to the 2017 Wellbeing Index Findings cited in the report.

The report includes recommendations for "policy analysis and reform, program development, trainings, and expansion of data collection," Ghazarian said.

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