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Press Release

New Status of Women & Girls+ in Minnesota Shows Barriers & Opportunities for Equity

Data in Economics, Safety, Health, and Leadership

The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota and the Center on Women, Gender, and Public Policy at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs released new research today on the status of women, girls, and gender-expansive people in Minnesota in four key areas: economics, safety, health, and leadership. A presentation on March 6 will share highlights of the research: The report is available at:

The report details persistent inequities facing women, girls, and gender-expansive people in Minnesota, with greater disparities faced by Black, Indigenous, and women and girls of color, rural women and girls, LGBTQ+ people, and older women.

According to Gloria Perez, President & CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, the disparities shown in the report limit women’s potential, compromise their safety, hinder access to healthcare, and limit leadership opportunities. “In the 10 years since research in the Economics section of this report supported the Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA), we have not seen enough gains to close the gaps for women and girls, especially Black, Indigenous, and women of color. We demand better for our state’s women and girls,” said Perez.

“Addressing these disparities requires coordinated public and private sector action, led by impacted communities,” said Christina Ewig, Director of the Center on Women, Gender, and Public Policy, who leads the research project.


Minnesota continues to economically shortchange all groups of women, with Latina, Black, and Indigenous women most impacted. Minnesota remains a national leader in women’s workforce participation, at 66%. Despite high rates of workforce and educational attainment, Minnesota women face persistent wage and wealth inequalities.

Wealth Gap — Minnesota has the third-largest racial wealth gap in the United States. Home ownership is a key building block of wealth, and reflects disparities by race, ethnicity, and family type. The Twin Cities has the largest Black-white homeownership gap of any metropolitan region in the U.S., a gap which has been expanding since 2000. Black, Indigenous, and women of color continue to face steep barriers to wealth-building, impeding reliable, long-term, investments in their families, futures, and communities.

Occupational Segregation — Women are the majority of workers in the state earning at or below the minimum wage and working in low-wage fields. A larger percentage of women in Greater Minnesota work minimum wage jobs compared to the Twin Cities. Women account for over 75% of employees in care and service-related occupations, which are frequently underpaid and do not offer employee benefits. Nearly a third of all Black, Indigenous, and Latina women work service occupations, where benefits are scarce.

The vast majority of child care workers (96%) are women, and they earn a median hourly wage of $14.63. More than half of these workers are enrolled in at least one of four public support and health care programs, compared to 21% of the entire U.S. workforce.

Wage Gap — The wage gap facing all women in Minnesota has barely budged over the past decade. On average, Minnesota women who work full-time all year make $0.81 for every dollar that men make, with important differences when it comes to race and ethnicity. Latina women, for instance, make $0.57 for every dollar and Black women make $0.62 for every dollar. Over a lifetime, women in Minnesota lose an estimated $483,040 in lifetime earnings due to the gender wage gap. Black, Indigenous, and women of color experience even greater losses, losing more than $1 million in a lifetime due to the wage gap.

“The wage gap is one of the areas where our intersectional, disaggregated approach uncovers important distinctions, particularly for Minnesota’s immigrant communities,” Ewig noted. The wage gap is 1.7 times as large and 1.4 times for other African immigrant and women than it is for white women in Minnesota.

For women to achieve economic security, we need to raise pay in occupations dominated by women, ensure all workers have access to a living wage, expand educational opportunities and access to high-paying trades, address the affordable housing crisis, and value unpaid carework through benefits like sick leave and subsidized child care.


Women and girls in Minnesota are harmed by gender-based violence across their lifetimes – in their homes, on the streets, and in schools, workplaces, and the criminal justice system. One in two Minnesota women report sexual violence, and one in four report physical violence from a partner in her lifetime. Consequences of this violence ripple over a lifetime and affect both physical and mental health, pregnancy, housing security, economic productivity, and personal security.

“Our persistently high rates of violence against women and the devastating effect on their futures shows why we invest in community-led organizations dedicated to violence-prevention, education, hope, and healing. While we support the survivors of violence and the people who care for them, we must work across sectors to prevent all forms of violence from sex trafficking, domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, harassment, and systemic violence,” Perez said.

Violence Against Native and Black Women & Girls+ — Native American women face high rates of violence. Nationally, Native American women are 19% more likely than white women to have experienced violence at some point in their lives and 71% more likely to have experienced violence in the past year. More than one-third of survivors (38%) were unable to access the essential services they required, pointing to the need for more connections to support services.

Black women are also disproportionately impacted by violence. Black women make up 40% of domestic violence victims in the state. In 2022, 24% of domestic violence homicide victims were Black, even though 6.4% of Minnesota’s population is Black.

“What you inspect, you improve. By shining a light on the stories behind the statistics, Minnesota’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives Office and the Office of Missing and Murdered Black Women & Girls are addressing the causes of violence and the power of community-led solutions,” Perez said.

Reporting Violence — Reports of rape in Minnesota increased 11% in 2021 over 2020. Minors account for almost half of the rape victims, while only 10% of the rape offenders were minors. Although 20,705 domestic violence incidents were reported to law enforcement in Minnesota in 2021, evidence shows that a reluctance to report does not represent the full picture of intimate partner violence in the state.

Sexuality & Gender Identity — Sexuality and gender identity also influence safety. More than three-quarters of LGBTQ+ Minnesotans report experiencing anti-LGBTQ+ behavior in the past year. Twice as many lesbian girls and three times as many transgender or nonbinary students report running away from home or living in a shelter on their own as their straight, cisgender counterparts. LGBTQ+ individuals are also overrepresented in every stage of the criminal justice system. Trans women of color face high risks of fatal violence and experience cumulative effects of discrimination, including barriers to employment, housing, and healthcare, which renders them vulnerable to violence, housing and job insecurity, and homelessness.

School Discipline & Law Enforcement — School discipline is another measure of safety, and the report shows that girls of color and LGBTQ+ students are sent out of the classroom more often. In Minnesota, Native American girls are five times more likely than white girls to be suspended, and Black girls are four times more likely. Native American women are disproportionately stopped by police, searched, and incarcerated. At the same time, 97% of incarcerated Native women in Minnesota reported having experienced violence or abuse, with 84% reporting incidents of intimate partner violence. LGBTQ+ individuals also experience significantly higher rates of arrest, incarceration, and community supervision.


Reducing health disparities and increasing positive health outcomes for all Minnesotans requires economic opportunity, physical activity, access to affordable and healthy foods, safe housing and neighborhoods, mental health services, and policies that ensure affordable access to high-quality health care. Health inequities for Black, Indigenous, and women and girls+ of color, LGBTQ+ people, and rural and girls+ lead to significant differences in health care access, quality, and outcomes in Minnesota.

“Despite historic legislation in Minnesota to protect reproductive rights, prevent conversion therapy for LGBTQ+ youth, and support our commitment to care for trans people, we still have a long way to go in creating better access to all forms of health care, increasing culturally congruent care, and reducing maternal morbidity and mortality, especially for Black and Indigenous people,” said Perez.

Prenatal Care — Access to prenatal care is unequal across race and ethnic groups in Minnesota, with Native women reporting the highest rate of inadequate care at 49%, followed by Black women at 40%. Over the past two decades, maternal mortality in the United States has increased, while in other high-income countries it has decreased. In Minnesota, maternal mortality rates are highest for Native Americans (near 80 per 100,000) followed by Blacks (near 20 per 100,000). Even though maternal mortality for Asians and Latinas is historically lower than for whites, Minnesota was one of the top five states with the largest percentage increase of maternal mortalities for the Latina population (greater than 105%).

Rural Health Care — The report shows disparities based upon place, including high teen birth rates in rural Minnesota. Rural Minnesota has a shortage of healthcare providers, particularly in primary and mental health care. Rural hospitals have fewer services available, and a disproportionate number of rural medical facilities have closed. Minnesota’s decline in rural obstetric services outstrips the national average. Forty-two (42%) percent of Minnesota counties lack birth services. In 2000, 15 Minnesota counties had no hospitals providing obstetrics care. By 2022, this figure had increased to 37 counties.

Mental Health — The report also highlights the role of mental health in overall well-being, with depression a mental health risk for both older and younger women, as well as LGBTQ+ Minnesotans. Economic status affects women’s mental health, with low-income women, especially Black, Indigenous, and women of color exposed to more uncontrollable life events, dangerous neighborhoods, and job insecurity, among other risks. Poor mental health has also been linked to the experience of racism, and prior victimization of violence, including sexual abuse. Only 27% of the demand for mental health professionals in Minnesota is met.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has warned that teen girls are facing mental health crises, which affect all communities. Teenage girls are two to three times as likely to attempt suicide as teenage boys. Almost one in three Native American teenage girls has attempted suicide, far more than any other group.


Corporate leadership in Minnesota remains dominated by white men. Of the top publicly held companies in Minnesota, only 11% are headed by a woman and only 2% of executive positions are occupied by a woman of color. “Corporate Minnesota would benefit from placing greater emphasis on diversifying its leadership,” said Ewig. “We know from extensive scholarship that bringing women with diverse backgrounds and experiences into leadership positions brings clear benefits. Companies experience higher levels of innovation, while government becomes more representative.”

Nonprofit Leadership — While women are 75% of the nonprofit workforce, they hold only 37% of leadership positions. Women hold a greater share of nonprofit and government leadership positions, but men still outnumber women two to one. In Minnesota, nonprofit leaders of color are rare, making up only 17% of leadership positions. Only 4% of nonprofit leaders are people with a disability.

Political Leadership — Women bring different experiences to the political decision-making process. Women introduce more legislation than men related to women’s rights, children, and family. Women of color and Native American women bring unique community voices to elective office; African American and Latina women focus especially on issues and interests of their communities. Not only do congresswomen secure about 9% more federal outlay money than congressmen, but they also sponsor and cosponsor more bills. The proportion of women in the Minnesota Legislature reached a historic high of 39% in the 2022 election, 17th in the country for the largest proportion of women. Ewig noted “What has been remarkable has been the rapid growth of Black, Indigenous, and Asian American women elected to the state legislature since 2016. Today they represent 8% of that body, almost proportional to their presence in the state population.” In local politics, men continue to dominate county governments, and women are underrepresented in municipal offices. However, Saint Paul made national news in the 2023 municipal elections when residents elected all women to the City Council, the youngest and most racially diverse council in the city’s history. Women mayors hold office in 32% of all Minnesota cities with a population of 10,000 or more.

School Leadership — Even though women dominate the teaching profession, they are not proportionately represented in top leadership. Black, Indigenous, and women of color make up just 5% of school district administrators statewide. The teaching profession in Minnesota is overwhelmingly white. Up slightly from 4% in the last report, only 6% of teachers in the state are non-white, compared to 37% of the population.

About Status of Women & Girls+ in Minnesota

The report, produced biennially since 2009, is the leading research on women, girls, and gender-expansive communities in the state and uses an intersectional lens to show how inequities impact communities differently. The report reflects the importance of disaggregating the data by gender, race, place, and additional identities like age, LGBTQ+, and disability to identify systemic barriers and community-specific solutions that benefit all Minnesotans.

Using original and secondary research, the report examines women’s experiences in economics, safety, health, and leadership and demonstrates that inequities accumulate over a lifetime and are impacted substantially by race, place, LGBTQ+ status, and additional identities. The report reflects data in metro and Greater Minnesota, as well as how aging, disability, and LGBTQ+ affect access to resources and measures of success and stability, over a lifetime.

“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to addressing gender inequalities. Understanding Minnesota’s community variation – how gender, race, place, sexuality, and dis/ability shape life chances and outcomes – is key to crafting responses that address the unique disparities faced by different groups,” said Ewig.

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