The goal of Women Empowered is to ensure economic security for all Arkansas women, as well as improve the financial futures of those who have already achieved economic security.

About

Through this initiative we educate, advocate, and innovate around issues of women’s economic security, such as asset building, access to capital, and the wealth gap.

We collaborate with stakeholders throughout the state to support policies, programs, and initiatives that work to close the gender and racial wealth gap. We inform our work through our own research, as well as the research of others. As part of this initiative, we are part of the Arkansas chapter of the Asset Funder’s Network where we also participate in the Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap Initiative.

Women’s Economic Mobility Hub (WEM Hub)

WFA commissioned a report in 2018, Economic Indicators for Women in Arkansas: State, County, & Region, which showed that the eastern edge of the state has both the highest rates of women living below the poverty line and the most women owned businesses. The Women’s Economic Mobility Hub works to leverage those findings by applying a racial and gender lens to a program designed specifically to support Black women owned businesses as vehicles for economic mobility.

The WEM Hub is designed to support Black women-owned businesses by providing technical assistance along with additional resources, including $5,000 in unrestricted grant funds to help scale their businesses.

An ideal WEM Hub participant will be able to commit to a six-month program in which Black women entrepreneurs can access tailored support services through a combination of online trainings and in-person meetings, including:

  • Expert advice from leading industry professionals surrounding topics such as accounting and financial management, business development, legal services, and more;
  • Ongoing mentorship support and counsel;
  • Peer to peer learning sessions;
  • Communications, public relations, and marketing training;
  • Leadership skill development; and
  • Opportunity to establish a relationship with participating financial institutions.

Applications for our fifth WEM Hub cohort are NOW OPEN!! Portal is open April 15th – May 20th. APPLY HERE!

Additional resources for women entrepreneurs can be found here

Learn more about the 2022 WEM Hub cohort here.

Learn more about the 2021 WEM Hub cohort here.

Please contact Maddie San Juan, Director of Strategic Programs & Initiatives, at msanjuan@womensfoundationarkansas.org if you have any questions.

Maddie San Juan Director of Strategic Programs & Initiatives
Bri Clark Program Coordinator

Women with Bachelor's Degrees or Higher

The statistics for women in Arkansas paint a bleak portrait of their economic opportunity.

20%

State of Arkansas

23%

State Average

41%

National Average

Only 20% of women hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, with the overall state average hovering around 23% – all compared to the national average of 41%. Around 18% of women live in poverty and 41% of single parent households with children live in poverty, with 80% of single parent households led by women.

While these numbers only provide a general sketch, the need for WE is clear. Women’s wealth and economic status depend on access and opportunities in affordable childcare, education, and asset ownership, as well as public policies that shape this access. We want WE to tackle these issues and identify and work on them in a meaningful and effective way.

Gender Equity

Our recent research found that Arkansas women’s labor force participation is 53%, compared with a national average of 58%. In Central Arkansas, women’s participation is the highest at 56%.

Women's Labor Force Participation

53%

State of Arkansas

56%

Central Arkansas

58%

National Average

ARKANSAS WOMEN EARNINGS ON THE DOLLAR

Even though Arkansas women are making up over half the labor force, they are still earning less than men. White women in Arkansas make 78 cents on the dollar, Asian women make 74 cents, African American women make 66 cents and Latino/Hispanic women make almost half of what their white male counterparts make at 53 cents on the dollar.

$0.78

White Women

$0.74

Asian Women

$0.66

African American Women

$0.53

Latino / Hispanic Women

Our Gender Equity Scorecard

In partnership with a team of practicum students from The Clinton School of Public Service during the 2017-2018 school year, we created the Gender Equity Scorecard which is a tool to help Arkansas businesses improve gender equity in the workplace. The Scorecard is designed to be taken by a senior level executive and/or an HR Director to gauge the current status of gender equity in their company’s workplace. Businesses who submit a Scorecard will be eligible for a chance to win the annual “Olivia Farrell Gender Equity Leadership Award” at the Arkansas Business of the Year Awards, on February 21st, presented by Arkansas Business Publishing Group.

In 2023, we took a year to revamp our Gender Equity Scorecard with help of UA Little Rock researchers, Dr. Noelle Butski and Dr. William Jergins. We knew that our scorecard needed to be refreshed to account for new ways of living and working in a post-pandemic world and to keep up with workplace trends from the past five years. 

What’s Changed?

  • We digitized the scorecard to make it more accessible and easy to use.
  • We updated some of our scorecard variables to better reflect global definitions of gender equality and metrics to measure those by. 
  • We updated the calculations by which scorecard indicators were weighted. This ensures a more evenly distributed weight across indicators and a more easily interpretable score. 

Instructions on how to take the scorecard:

The scorecard is designed to be taken by a senior level executive and/or an HR Director. Please assure the appropriate person is submitting the scorecard on behalf of the company/organization. 

  1. Take the scorecard quiz here.
  2. Make sure to fill out the scorecard entirely and hit “submit” at the bottom of the form.
  3. We will email your final score back to you in 1-3 business days. If you’d like to score yourself, refer to our scoring guide here. 
  4. Submit the scorecard by January 4th, 2024 to be eligible for the 2024 Olivia Farrell Gender Equity Leadership Award. 

Past Olivia Farrell Gender Equity Leadership Award/ Gender Equity Scorecard Winners:

  • 2022- Chenal Family Therapy 
  • 2021- Friday, Eldredge & Clark, LLP
  • 2020- Wright, Lindsey, Jennings 
  • 2019- Windstream 

If you have any questions about our Gender Equity Scorecard, please email Maddie San Juan, Director of Strategic Programs & Initiatives, at msanjuan@womensfoundationarkansas.org

Maddie San Juan Director of Strategic Programs & Initiatives

Previous Olivia Farrell Gender Equity Leadership Award Winners

2022: Chenal Family Therapy

2021: Friday, Eldredge & Clark, LLP

2020: Wright, Lindsey, Jennings LLP

2019: Windstream

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