53 % of women make up Arkansas workforce, organization strives to improve opportunities

The labor force rate among women is highest in Central Arkansas and lowest in Southwest Arkansas, according to the Women's Foundation of Arkansas. (KATV Photo)

The Women's Foundation of Arkansas is heading an initiative to gauge how businesses rate when it comes to gender equity.

Anna Beth Gorman, WFA executive director, says visual representation is vital, be it in the halls of Congress, the Arkansas General Assembly and everywhere else in the vast field of careers.

Women account for 53 percent of the Arkansas workforce compared to the national rate of 58 percent.

"You have to take into -- not just the historical disadvantages of being a woman but you need to also look at the intersection of race and gender -- geography," Gorman said.

The WFA has been working alongside the Clinton School of Public Service to implement its Gender Equity Scorecard program.

Boosting economic empowerment and advancing opportunities for women is the goal.

Businesses evaluate everything from leadership, mentoring, job skills , flexibility, and resource groups.

With the category of flexibility, a sample question is, "Does the organization offer maternity leave?" and "Is the maternity and/or paternity leave paid?"

In March, WFA will highlight the top business and present what worked to ensure equity for men and women.

"We really hope that's a challenge and an invitation to other organizations in Arkansas to look at their internal environment and how they can be more successful in supporting women that work there," Gorman said.

Labor force participation is highest in Central Arkansas at 56.4 percent and lowest in Southwest Arkansas at 50.1 percent, according to WFA.

Women of color are more likely to be in the labor force than white women across the state.

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