Are women making gains in Arizona when it comes to wellness and economic opportunity?
As the world marks International Women's Day Thursday, it would appear that, at least publicly, the state is making progress.
Arizona has the highest percentage of female legislators. Since 1988 it has had four female governors. The state's capitol, Phoenix, is the largest city in the nation with both a female police chief and female fire chief.
Other markers of progress are more nuanced.
Arizona's wage gap ranks eighth best in the nation, with women making 84 cents to each dollar earned by a man.
"It’s progress. However that's still not right. It should be equal. We shouldn't be having these conversations in 2018," said Mesha Davis, CEO of The Arizona Foundation for Women.
The foundation released its "Status of Women in Arizona" report last year, examining the safety, health and economic well-being of women in the state.
According to the report, Arizona is ranked No. 8 in the nation for the percentage of women in (STEM) science and tech jobs at 4.8 percent.
Single mothers are lagging behind most of the country in one key statistic: Child support. Seventy-four percent of women in Arizona owed child support are not getting it. It’s one of several social issues where Davis hopes lawmakers make better progress.
“It is still a little ironic that we have a lot of women leaders, but we're not seeing the needle move far enough,” Davis said.
She added that an area of progress is that the state has one of the highest rates of women taking college courses. They are struggling to accomplish the next step.
"We're not seeing them get great job placements or graduating. So it's great they are applying and getting accepted, but we need to help see them through to the end and we need to find out what those barriers are."
One barrier is economic hardship. Arizona ranks as the eighth worst in the nation for percentage of children living in "food insecure households" at 25 percent.
The foundation is holding its annual awards luncheon later this month on March 26. They will honor Ashley Judd with the Sandra Day O’Connor Lifetime Achievement Award for Judd’s humanitarian work.