Women and Girls of Color Initiative

Information on Women and Girls of Color Initiative

What do we know?

Indicators suggest women and girls of color have made tremendous strides towards social justice and equality.

  • High educational attainment among Black women
  • High school and college graduation rates have risen
  • Unintended pregnancy rates for girls of color have dropped
  • Business ownership, major growth
  • Women of color in upper ranks at workplaces and institutions across the United States


Issues: Education

Education is still an issue among women and girls of color.

  • Girls of color lag behind in standardized tests
  • More likely to be suspended from school
  • Face school to prison pipeline
  • Black and Native American girls have higher rates of placement in juvenile detention facilities than those of other racial/ethnic groups

Issues: Penal System

-Disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice system.

-Number of women in state and federal prisons has increased eight-fold from 12,300 in 1980 to 107,500 in 2005.

  • 30% of women prisoners are Black and 16% are Latinas.
  • Since 1980 the number of women in prison has increased at nearly double the rate for men.
  • Black women are incarcerated at 4 times the rate of White women
  • 65% of women in state prisons were parents of minor children.

-Americans with criminal records suffer lifelong consequences, such as barriers to housing, education, and employment, among others.


Issues: Poverty & Economic Injustice

-Women and girls of color still face the highest rates of poverty and economic injustice

  • Approximately 37% of women in prison has incomes of less than $600/month to their arrest

-Receive lower wages for their work

  • Black women 63%
  • Native women 58-60%
  • Latinas 54%
  • Percentages of Black women full-time, minimum-wage workers is higher than that of any other racial group (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • HUGE wealth disparities



  • Gender based violence
  • Voices in media and popular culture
  • Health equity
  • Leadership & representation in political sphere


...and in research!

"Women of color will constitute more than half of all women in the United States by 2050, but they are infrequently the central subjects of scholarly inquiry. This research deficit has meaningful consequences for the ways our institutions contribute to public discourses and policy making. As part of the collaborative, Wake Forest is proud to be among a distinguished group of institutions that seeks to address this deficit." --Wake Forest University, Provost Rogan Kersh


New $118 Million Initiative

-Included academics, activists, government officials, and policy makers

-First; $100 million in foundation funding for programs that improve the economic status of low-income women and girls of color.

  • 5-year-funding initiative by Prosperity Together to improve economic prosperity for low-income women.


Five Major Areas Targeted

Interventions and research will focus on five major areas that impact women and girls of color:

  • Revamping discipline systems that exclude girls of color from school and better supporting their success
  • Improveing outcomes for those who have contact with juvenile justice and youth service systems
  • Creating and supporting opportunities for inclusive STEM education
  • Reducing teen births in communities of color via pregnancy prevention programs
  • Driving economic prosperity; supporting programs that address the cultural and educational needs of low-income women and enhancing access to high-quality child care


Research Partnerships

  • Collaborative to Advance Equity through Research--an affiliation of American colleges, universities, research organizations, publishers and public interest institutions
  • $18 million funding commitment--to support existing and new research efforts about women and girls of color
  • Research initiative led by the Anna Julia Cooper Center at Wake Forest University; Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry
  • Marquette University's Center for Gender and Sexualities Studies partnership!


To see a list of partnering universities, click here!


Marquette's Women and Girls of Color Initiative

-$1 million to support research

-CGSS will vet, support proposals

  • Research proposal competition--intersectional, interdisciplinary, promote social justice
  • Funded postdoc
  • Networking event (faculty, students, staff, community)
  • Faculty Support
    • Seed grants/course buyouts
  • Student support
    • Graduate student research; undergraduate conference travel

-Encourages publications and presentations

-Approximately 50 faculty across campus, research in this area



Raynor Library

About the Center

The Center for Gender and Sexualities Studies provides a bridge space supporting scholarly work and the lived experience of gender and sexualities.

Learn more

Contact Us

The Center
(414) 288-0856
Facebook Instagram

Dr. Angelique (Angie) Harris
Director and Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Sciences
Lalumiere Hall, Room 355
(414) 288-7438