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Report Finds That Gender Equality Is Still An Issue In Maine

A century after winning the right to vote, Maine women are still contending with lower wages, sexual harassment in the workplace and unacceptable amounts of gender-based violence. Those are some of the findings of the 2020 Report on the Status of Women and Girls in Maine, released Thursday.

The report is compiled by the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women. Commission member Anne Gass says the issue of equality has become bogged down in partisan politics, but that an important step toward achieving it is enshrining the concept in the Maine Constitution: "we need to pass the Maine Equal Rights Amendment, and the Legislature has not been able to do that."

Gass also says the Commission found that little exists in the way of data about the needs of minority women.

"One of the things that we recommended in the report is that we do more in depth research projects,” she says. “If we have to do surveys or focus groups or other things that are designed specifically to reach out to people of color."

Commission Chair Rebecca Austin also says that a focus has to be placed on underserved and minority women.

"When we began to undertake writing this report and digging into research and looking for how we wanted to talk about the lived experience of women in the state of Maine, we realized that even on our Commission we are lacking the representation and diversity that would allow us to do that job to the best of our ability," says Austin.

Additionally, the report projects that, at current rates, Caucasian women will not achieve equal pay with their male counterparts until 2060, and projections for Black women workers are even farther behind. The report also discourages certain non-disclosure agreements in the workplace.