In this State of Working North Carolina report, we look at what it means to be a working woman in our state in 2023.
Over the past few decades, the outlook for women in the labor force has improved substantially. But improvement over a baseline where women were considered second-class citizens isn’t enough, and many disparities still exist today. While many of these disparities are common throughout the U.S., North Carolina is a uniquely difficult environment for women. In their 2023 report, Oxfam ranked North Carolina as America’s worst state for working women.
When we do see equality or near equality between men and women, racial inequality lurks beneath the surface. Black and Brown women face more barriers than their white counterparts, and immigrant women, in particular, experience the worst conditions the labor market has to offer. Barriers like occupational segregation, discrimination, and sexual harassment mean women still face a hostile work environment. Women face more disruptions throughout their careers, as caregiving responsibilities, pregnancy, and many other issues still burden women disproportionately. These barriers cause women to work longer, for less money, and in more precarious situations.
Throughout this report, you will hear the stories of working women in North Carolina. Their experiences reinforce much of the research cited in this report but also shed light on experiences that are hard to quantify. Beyond the inequality these stories and research identify, there is hope for a better future. Women are organizing in greater numbers, and as women flex their collective power, there is the potential for change from the halls of Congress to the smallest of workplaces.