Women of Color Face Barriers to Opportunity in RI, Says New Report

Rhode Island women of color are facing significant barriers to opportunity with wages, education and affordable housing, according to a new report from the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island.

“While we often hear about the gender wage gap and its subsequent wealth gap for women, this report really puts a spotlight on how deep the inequities go for our sisters of color. Efforts to increase the minimum wage and ensure fair pay are just a few initiatives that we are working on with community partners. However, more needs to be done. We want to hear from the community as to how best to use the findings of this report,” said Kelly Nevins, Executive Director of the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island.

Click here to read the full report

The Report

The research for the report was done in partnership with the Economic Progress Institute.

“This report highlights the lived experience of Rhode Island women of color and the barriers that exist that prevent them from improving their economic security. We should all be concerned about these disparities and work together to bring down these barriers for the good of our communities,” said Rachel Flum, executive director of the Institute.

The report’s findings are as follows:

Educational attainment varies considerably for women of color with 20% of Black women and 13% of Latinas with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

  • Black and Latina women and girls have two to three times higher poverty rates than their White counterparts.
  • Two in five Rhode Island women work in health care, social assistance or educational services. Nearly half of Rhode Island’s Healthcare support workers are women of color, yet for many, their median wage is much lower than Rhode Island’s median wage. Lifetime wage loss based on current disparities in median wages are nearly twice as much ($1M) for Black women and three times more ($1.2M) for Latina women.
  • Rhode Island homeowners of color spend more of their income on housing than white homeowners, with Rhode Island listed as the 2nd lowest among all states for homeownership rates for households of color.

Addressing the Issues

In an effort to address the issues, a series of community forums will be held to share the information and invite ideas.

The Women’s Fund of Rhode Island will be hosting a “Cocktails & Conversations: Women of Color Research” on January 30 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Tech Collective in Providence.

The event includes a cash bar and appetizers.

Panelists include:

  • Rachel Flum, Executive Director of the Economic Progress Institute
  • Angela Ankoma, Executive Vice President of the United Way of Rhode Island
  • Traniesha West, Community Organizer for Working Families