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Report Assesses Status of Women in Maine

A new report from the Maine Permanent Commission on the Status of Women says the state should do more to make sure children get affordable early childhood education and more opportunities to pursue jobs in higher-paying science, technology, engineering or math fields.

But acting commission Chairwoman Regina Rooney says educators shouldn’t just seek to funnel girls into traditionally male-dominated fields.

“We also believe it’s important to recognize the value of more traditionally female-dominated occupations like childcare and teaching that bring lower wages. We really don’t think the answer is to get women to go and only work in STEM jobs because that’s where the money is,” she says.

Among other findings in the report are that women in Maine make 79 cents on the dollar compared with men, report a domestic violence assault at a rate of more than one every two hours and face restrictions to getting health care.

On the other hand, the state has made rules to protect victims of domestic violence from homelessness and to punish people who post revenge porn online, as well as increased access to reproductive services through MaineCare.

Rooney says programs that help families deal with poverty also have a major positive impact on women.

“Safety-net programs like GA, Aspire and TANF, they play such a key role for women and their families, sustaining those is really important in terms of moving Maine women forward,” she says.

The commission is state-appointed group made up of women from the state’s agriculture, business, nonprofit, political and education communities.