SANTA CLARA COUNTY,
CALIF. – Today, the County of Santa Clara Office of Women’s Policy
presented a comprehensive report about the State of Women and Girls in Santa
Clara County. The document indicates how women and girls are faring in four
crucial policy areas: education, the economy, violence and crime, and
“Women and girls are half of the population of Santa Clara County and
ignoring their most pressing needs to thrive is a mistake we cannot afford to
make,” said President George Shirakawa, County of Santa Clara Board of
Supervisors after today’s presentation. “This report is a guideline for policy
makers, community leaders and everyone who is ready to transform these
challenges into opportunities for the benefit of our entire
Today’s presentation included keynote remarks and policy
briefings by County of Santa Clara Supervisors and executives, as well as other
stakeholders with knowledge and a longstanding commitment of advocacy for the
population targeted by the report.
“This report will be extremely helpful
as we focus on the most pressing needs of women and girls in our County,” said
County of Santa Clara Supervisor Liz Kniss, Honorary Co-chair of the report.
“Women face many challenges to develop their potential. The data will help us to
address impending issues and be mindful of policy decisions that will affect
women and girls.”
Supervisor Kniss was joined by Honorary Co-Chairs and
former County Supervisors U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren, Blanca Alvarado,
Suzanne Wilson, and Diane McKenna, and former State Senator Becky Morgan and
former City of San Jose Mayor Susan Hammer.
The State of Women and Girls
in Santa Clara County is the result of an effort from the County of Santa Clara
Office of Women’s Policy, which in the fall of 2011 convened an Advisory Board
comprised of thirty-two stakeholders representing a cross-section of
disciplines. The Advisory Board selected indicators, reviewed data, prioritized
indicators for action, and identified strategies that have the greatest
potential to improve the status of women.
“We are very grateful for the
insight and support of the Advisory Board and everyone who understands the
importance of keeping a gender lens in decision-making across Santa Clara
County,” said County of Santa Clara Office of Women’s Policy Esther Peralez-Dieckmann. “This report gives us powerful information to help those with
influence and determination to take action and advocate for the well-being of
women, families and the community.”
The goal of this report is to provide
a baseline of information in key areas to build a platform by which the Office
of Women’s Policy, in collaboration with the Commission on the Status of Women
and community stakeholders, can launch a multi-year, countywide initiative to
improve the status of women and girls.
“This report will be extremely
useful as we launch a strategic and targeted effort to improve the status of
women and girls in our County,” said Suzanne Doty, Chair of the Commission on
the Status of Women. “The horizon might be challenging, but there are certainly
“winnable battles” that will benefit women, girls and our entire community for
years to come.”
The Office of Women’s Policy plans to use the
Report on the State of Women and Girls in Santa Clara County as a “community
document”, and from March through May 2012, the Office will seek community input
and feedback to make an inventory of available data resources and potential
partners to recruit on key initiatives already underway. Feedback and other
inquiries may be sent to email@example.com no later than May 31,
On August 24, 2012, the Office of Women’s Policy will launch
countywide policy agenda for women and girls in Santa Clara County at the annual
Women’s Equality Day Luncheon hosted by the Commission on the Status of
Women and Girls in Santa Clara County
Report Key Findings
- Women and girls make up half of the county’s population at 49.8%.
- In spite of the progress since the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment
granting women the right to vote in the U.S., women today continue to face many
challenges that affect their ability to move forward and achieve full equality
- Antiquated notions of gender roles, bias fueled by the over-sexualization of
women and girls in the media, and an overall lack of knowledge about women’s
growing economic and political power continue to hinder efforts to advance women
and girls today.
- The State of Women and Girls in Santa Clara County Report addresses four key
areas: education, economic prosperity, health, and violence and crime. There are
compelling reasons and evidence to suggest that these four areas hold the key to
improving the overall status of women and girls in our community.
- In 2012, we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Title IX, a landmark
legislation which ensured equity for women in educational programs and
activities. Even though the achievement gap between girls and boys K-12 has
closed, and, in some instances, girls are exceeding the achievement rates of
boys, an unacceptable percentage do not read at grade level or graduate from
- While women are earning more bachelor degrees than men, it is easy to see a
trend where women do not pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and
- A recent report from the American Association of University Women (AAUW)
suggests women face significant environmental and social barriers in the
classrooms of higher education that block their progress and participation in
degree programs leading to these higher wage careers. Additionally, women lack
support and mentoring from college into the workplace.
- While women in the United States have made great strides toward
socioeconomic equality over the past century, gender disparities remain in Santa
Clara County as do inequalities among women.
- Women today continue to face a persistent wage gap, earning 23% less than
men for the same job in 80 % of the labor categories in the U.S. and the wage
gap is even greater in Santa Clara County. As the economic stability of families
has plummeted, women who occupy lower wage sectors (mainly Latinas) such as food
service, hotel work, and domestic work, are more vulnerable to wage and labor
violations, unsafe and unhealthy work conditions.
- Women are more likely to be unemployed than men and unemployment rates have
spiked in recent years.
- Women continue to be paid less than men for the same job, and Latinas tend
to be clustered into relatively lower-paying occupations. In addition, while
there is a wage gap at every level of education, it is widest among the highest
- The number of women-owned firms in the county has grown since 2002. The most
recent estimates indicate that about 30% of privately-owned firms are owned by
- Women are more likely than men to be living in poverty. The poverty rate is
increasing for both men and women. In 2010, 11% of women and girls lived in
- A recent report by the Santa Clara County Public Health Department
underscores how social determinants of health, such as access to medical care
and preventative screenings, social status, employment and income, education and
housing, result in significant health disparities and inequities for people of
color, poor people and women.
- As Americans are living longer, our community faces considerable health
uncertainties. Half of all adults suffer from one or more chronic conditions
that, if unaddressed, will result in significant personal and financial hardship
as they age. Obesity, both for youth and adults, remains a challenge.
- While Santa Clara County women tend to be current on preventive screening, a
closer look at the data reveals racial and ethnic disparities that point to
potential areas for targeted public health efforts.
- Women’s health insurance coverage has declined in Santa Clara County. In
2000, 93% of women had health insurance; in 2009, 87% were covered. Latina and
African American women are less likely than White and Asian women to have
- Women report poorer physical and mental health than men do. African American
and White women are more likely to report poor mental health than Latina and
- The prevalence of overweight-obese women has increased in recent years and
currently they represent 49% of all women. A greater proportion of males than
females in the county are overweight or obese.
- With National Healthcare Reform underway, we have an unprecedented
opportunity to create a health care system that will ensure access and coverage
for all Americans by 2014. It is imperative that we engage women in the
development of this system and advocate for healthcare programs, services and
policies that are gender responsive, culturally competent, trauma informed and
Violence and Crime
- As in other communities all over the world, women and girls are most
vulnerable to certain types of violence and crime. Understanding the types of
crimes for which women and girls are most at risk enables the development of
- In Santa Clara County, girls are more likely than boys to be victims of
psychological bullying and cyber bullying at school. As adults, a greater
proportion of women than men are victims of domestic violence and sexual
- Girls are more likely to be reported as victims of child abuse and neglect,
although the rate of maltreatment substantiations in the county has decreased
over the decade. In 2010, substantiated cases of child maltreatment reached a
10-year low, at 3.7 per 1,000 girls.
- The need for emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence has
increased along with the numbers of women and children unable to access shelter.
In 2011 local domestic violence crisis hotlines answered approximately 13 calls
per 1,000 people compared to 10 calls per 1,000 people in 2010. However, the
rate of domestic violence calls to local law enforcement in the county has
declined over the last 10 years, from 3.9 calls in 2000 to 2.76 calls per 1,000
residents in 2009.
- Violence against women and the impact of the criminal justice system on
women and girls are an ongoing concern.
- Research by the Office of Women’s Policy indicates that female offenders in
our local jail system are generally poor, single women of color who are mothers.
Many of these women have children under the age of five. A significant number of
these women (an estimated 85%) reported being victims of domestic violence.
- Cycles of abuse and violence, with overlapping cycles of poverty and
educational failure, create a cycle of incarceration that is not only extremely
difficult to break, it creates a new problem of inter-generational incarceration
with children of these offenders being more likely to experience negative
outcomes, including becoming offenders themselves.
- Of all groups of women, one segment of the population merits considerable
focus and advocacy to address the numerous, complex challenges in more than one
of the key policy areas we selected for this report. Latinas are less likely to
be kindergarten ready, most likely to become teen mothers, and, along with
African-American girls, are least likely to graduate. Not suprisingly, they make
up the largest percentage of low-wage workers and are disproportionately
over-represented in the juvenile justice and adult correctional system in Santa
- Targeted efforts to examine and address issues for Latinas in Santa Clara
County must remain high on the County and community’s agenda.
Media Contact: Gwendolyn Mitchell/Marina Hinestrosa, Office of
Public Affairs, (408) 299-5119; Esther Peralez-Dieckmann, Office of Women’s
Policy (408) 299-5119 (408) 299-5142 or 398-0541
Posted: March 23,