The Women's Resource Agency has been empowering women and teen girls to self-sufficiency and economic independence since 1977 and it is just as true today as it was in the late 70's that women, especially single moms, are in need of support to find employment that pays the way.
We serve over 1,100 women annually through our Citadel Mall boutique and offices and find that the majority of our women, although grateful for work, are sadly getting paid between $9-$13/hour.
For a single parent with a preschooler and school age child, The Colorado Center on Law and Policy says the self-sufficiency wages for El Paso County is $51,699 ($24.80/hr).
We see the problem of low pay and gender pay inequity every day.
To help address this issue, the Women's Resource Agency bases our program work on research from Colorado Department of Labor's Projected Demands for Middle Skill Occupations and the Women's Foundation of Colorado's Gender Equity in Colorado's STEM Industries.
From these studies, we see the need for women and teen girls to explore and pursue careers in computer support, surgical and radiology tech, dental hygiene, lab and medical sales and other work that one does not always find posted on Indeed.com.
These positions often require additional training and certifications. Unfortunately our women frequently are carrying debt from a past education experience and are on the verge of bankruptcy due to an extended period of unemployment.
We need more funding for training.
We also see the need to diversify our El Paso County industries so we have jobs outside of military contracts, retail and hospitality.
As our county continues to grow, we will see more jobs in STEM businesses and thereby in sales, marketing and administration support for the STEM field.
In the meantime, we will continue to pursue growth in STEM and the Women's Foundation of Colorado is fostering this with their panel in Colorado Springs on May 25, The Case for a Focused Workforce Investment in Gender Equity in Colorado's STEM industries.
Information about this free event can be found on their website at www.wfco.org.
If you know a woman or teen girl who is struggling to keep her life together or if you are interested in volunteering or hosting a STEM job shadow experience, contact the Women's Resource Agency at 719-471-3170 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Melissa Marts is the executive director of the Women's Resource Agency.