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30 Women's History Month Facts That'll Remind You How Badass Women Are

As Rihanna says, “Don’t act like you forgot.”

by Lindsay E. Mack and Katie McPherson
Originally Published: 

When you're reflecting on women of the past this March during Women’s History Month, consider the place of women in the modern world too. The facts about women to remember during Women's History Month are eye-opening, alarming, and inspiring. Get this: women make up about half of the U.S. labor force, but the nation still provides no paid parental leave? If you’ve never considered why Women’s History Month exists, knowing where women’s issues stand today can provide some insight on why awareness is important.

Although many of the stats are relatively U.S.-centric, there are some facts that look at the global state of women as well. Educational and workplace equality are still concerns in many parts of the world. (On a happier note, most of the statistics coming out of the U.S. and around the globe concerning women’s education are trending positively.) The world is also beginning to understand the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on women’s careers, though it will probably take many more studies to determine exactly how the pandemic has affected women around the globe.

Otherwise, the state of women in the modern world is both encouraging and enraging. But by taking a macro look at the trends, policies, and challenges that face today's women, you can get a better sense of the forces that govern our lives. So much has been achieved, and it’s proof of all that can be done in the future.


Working moms are the norm in the U.S.

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Over half of mothers with a child under the age of 1 are active in the labor force in the United States as of 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That number only increases as children age, and 75.4% of mothers with a child between the ages of 6 to 17 work.


After the pandemic, nearly a million women returned to work in 2021.

During the Covid pandemic, women dropped out of the workforce at staggering rates when childcare facilities and schools closed, and mothers had to fill the gap. In 2021, The 19th reports, 57.8 percent of all women participated in the labor force and nearly a million women returned to work.


Women the world over are marrying later.

In 1990, women entered a first marriage at the average age of 21.9, and that average rose to 23.3 years around 2010, according to Progress of the World’s Women from the UN. In fact, the majority of millennials tend to build a strong, years-long connection with their partner before considering marriage, according to Elite Daily.


Worldwide education quality for girls is improving.

Across the world, both boys and girls are equally likely to receive primary education in most regions, according to The World’s Women 2020. Global literacy rates have also improved steadily over the past few years.


Female athletes are generally well-represented at the Olympic games.

Nearly 50 percent of athletes in the Olympic Games are female, and women have participated in every sport at the games since 2012, according to the Olympic Games. Any new sport joining the games must include a female division.


Worldwide, women still tend to do the majority of unpaid labor.

Across the globe, women typically complete far more unpaid domestic and care work than their male counterparts, often spending three times as many hours on it, according to The World’s Women 2020: Trends and Statistics report from the United Nations. Although the care these women are providing is often essential, these workloads can harm their abilities to participate in wage work and advance their careers.


Essential worker roles are often shouldered by women of color.

Nursing assistants, home health aides, and emergency child care workers, which are often considered essential roles, are also among the top jobs for women of color, according to the Center for American Progress (CAP). In fact, almost one-third of all nursing assistants and home health aides are Black women, as the CAP further reports.


Younger medical doctors are more likely to be female.

Over 60 percent of physicians under the age of 35 are female, according to a study of 18,000 physicians from Athena Health. And since 2017, more women than men have been accepted to, and graduated from, U.S. medical schools, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.


Female leaders are slowly but steadily on the rise.

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Out of 193 countries, 21 have a woman as head of state or government, according to the Council of Foriegn Relations. Having more women in leadership is associated with greater efforts at promoting equality and social welfare, as well as increased stability for the country overall.


Women, especially BIPOC women, are still underrepresented in the arts.

A survey of 18 major U.S. museums found that, of the artists represented, 87% are men and 85% are white, according to the study Diversity of Artists in Major U.S. Museums. Groups dedicated to boosting the place of female artists include the bitingly satirical Guerrilla Girls, as well as TILA Studios, which is focused on increasing representation of Black women in the fine arts industry.


Black transgender women often face the brunt of violence against trans people.

The Human Rights Campaign reports there were 44 fatalities resulting from fatal violent crimes against transgender and gender non-conforming people in 2020. This was a record number, according to the organization, which adds, “While the details of these cases differ, it is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color — particularly Black transgender women — and that the intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and unchecked access to guns conspire to deprive them of employment, housing, healthcare and other necessities.”


Women are steadily taking on more senior roles with companies.

From 2015 to 2020, the percent of women in senior vice president (SVP) roles grew from 23 to 28%, according to the Women in the Workplace report from Women in C-suite positions rose from 17 to 21%. So, the glass ceiling is cracking for some, but has yet to be dismantled completely.


Over half of all U.S. accountants & auditors are women.

When someone says “accountant,” you probably picture a white man in a suit. But at least in the United States, 61.7% of all accountants and auditors are women, according to research from Catalyst. Globally, nearly half of all accounting students are female. So, if you’re still picturing an old fellow behind an abacus, it’s time to reassess that image.


Breastfeeding continues to gain popularity in the U.S.

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Of U.S. infants born in 2017, 84% started off life breastfeeding, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is an increase from 2011, in which 79% of newborn infants began breastfeeding, according to the CDC. There’s a lot of potential benefits to giving your kid breast milk, including a lower need for dental work or chance of developing allergies later in life, according to Romper. That said, the Fed is Best Foundation acknowledges that strictly breastfeeding isn’t ideal (or possible) for every mother, and advocates the normalization of formula feeding.


Paid parental leave in the U.S. is far below average.

One reason breastfeeding can be hard for many parents? There’s not much support from the government or employers when it comes to parental leave. When compared to 40 other nations, only the U.S. does not require any paid maternity leave, according to the Pew Research Center. Most other countries require at least two months of paid leave, as further noted by Pew Research. (Individual states or companies in the U.S. may provide more comprehensive parental leave policies.)


A relatively high number of U.S. women are in prison.

Women in the United States account for only 4 percent of the world's female population, but U.S. women make up a staggering 30 percent of the world's population of women in prison, according to the Prison Policy Initiative. Nearly half of U.S. states incarcerate women at roughly 10 times the rate of international allies such as Portugal, Canada, and the United Kingdom.


Rates of intimate partner violence remain high.

Worldwide, around 30 percent of women who've been in a relationship report experiencing physical and/or sexual violence from their partner, and has been declared a public health issue, according to the World Health Organization. If you or a loved one is experiencing violence from a partner, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.7233.


In the U.S., poverty is more likely to affect women.


U.S. women are 35% more likely than men to face poverty, according to The Women's Legal Defense and Education Fund. The gender wage gap, lack of affordable child care, and the burden of doing most of the domestic labor all contribute to the problem. They add that salaries for positions most often held by women, like those in hospitality or retail, are consistently paid a lower salary than jobs traditionally considered to be men’s territory, like construction and engineering.


Women are still paid less than men doing the same work.

Women who work full-time make an average of 16% less than their male counterparts. The differences comes to $0.84 on the dollar. When you factor in part-time workers, that pay gap jumps to 23%, reports Lean In. The pay gap widens even more when you consider race, with BIPOC women making between 36% and 54% less on average than men in the similar roles.


Women make up over half of the labor force with a college degree.

As of 2019, women made up just over half of the U.S. labor market with a college degree, according to the Pew Research Center. This could mean positive things for women’s overall earning power, and give all the little girls growing up a chance to see women advance their careers, take on leadership roles, and change the world.


Female CEOs at major companies remain rare.

As of January 2020, women held 5.8% of CEO positions at S&P 500 companies, according to Catalyst. Women of color, those born outside the U.S., and LGBT women are especially underrepresented in these roles, as further explained in Catalyst. Lean In seconds this, explaining that “fewer women have risen through the ranks because of the ‘broken rung’ at the first step up to management,” a dynamic that is even more pronounced for BIPOC women.


Women have greater difficulty advancing at work than men.

According to a 2022 report from Lean In, of women leaders who switched jobs within the last year, 48% did so because they felt they needed to in order to have opportunities for advancement. Additionally, they reported higher rates than men of having a coworker being given credit for their ideas or work, and being twice as likely to be mistaken for someone more junior than a male coworker.


Workplace success can still depend on a woman’s race, disabilities, and gender identity.

Black and Latina women “are significantly less likely than women of other races and ethnicities to report their manager regularly shows interest in their career development,” the same Lean In report states. Women with disabilities or who identify as LGBTQ+ are also subjected to more demeaning comments and microaggressions in the workplace, the report finds.


More women are going to space than ever before.

Geraldyn Cobb passed her astronaut testing in 1961, but because she was a woman, she wasn’t allowed to pursue space travel. She testified on Capitol Hill in 1962 to change this, and today, there is a massive body of scientific research completed by women who have gone to space after her (and the iconic Sally Ride). Just recently, in 2019, NASA completed its first all-female space walk.


Women make up 28% of Congress today.

The 118th United States Congress is made up of more than one quarter women leaders, The Pew Research Center reports. Women hold 153 of 540 positions (voting and nonvoting members of Congress). While it’s progress in the right direction, it’s still nowhere near representative of the population, which is 50.5% female.


Mothers tend to make less than other women, while fathers make more than other men.

Have you ever heard of “the motherhood penalty?” It’s a term for this phenomenon: when a woman is offered a job, she will be offered less money if she is a mother. Men, on the contrary, have a different work-family dynamic. Research suggests they have a “fatherhood bonus” — men who become parents tend to earn more over time.


Women’s careers are in jeopardy after the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Lean In reports that in a survey, “82% of women say that having control over whether and when they have a child is critical to pursuing their career goals.” It also puts women’s health at risk on a massive scale, as Romper previously reported.


In some parts of the world, it’s still illegal for women to work.

In 100 countries around the world, there are still laws prohibiting women from holding certain kinds of jobs. And in many others, while it’s not technically illegal, a woman must have her husband’s permission to get a job, or change from one employer to the next, according to FINCA International.


Heart disease in women needs far more awareness.

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The leading cause of death for U.S. women, heart disease was responsible for approximately 1 out of every 5 female deaths in the United States in 2017, according to the CDC. Here’s the general symptoms of heart disease in women, as reported by Bustle, including chest discomfort and unusual fatigue. The good news is that you can help lower your risk of heart disease by quitting smoking, managing stress levels, and monitoring blood pressure, as further explained by the CDC. Talk to your doctor to learn more about things you can do now to help prevent heart disease.


Women are half the world’s population.

In 2021, women made up 49.7% of the world’s population, according to The World Bank. Here's to the continued success, well-being, and care of all those individuals.

The best way to celebrate Women’s History day is to choose a cause affecting women that matters to you, and take even a small action to better it. Maybe you share a nonprofit that supports victims of intimate partner violence on your Instagram, or donate to an org lobbying for better paid parental leave policies.

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