When you're remembering the women of the past this March, it may be smart to consider the place of women in the modern world as well. In fact, these facts about women to remember during Women's History Month are eye-opening, and provide insight into the realities that many women are dealing with today.
These findings run the gamut from politics to culture to healthcare. There have been gains in positive arenas, such as education, as well as negative ones, such as incarceration rates. Some of these findings are heartbreaking, some are thrilling, and some are just confusing. (Why do Americans greatly overestimate the proportion of lesbians in the population?)
Although the majority of these stats are relatively U.S.-centric, there are some facts that concern the global state of women as well. Refugees, for instance, tend to be a female majority, and child brides are still a major concern in other parts of the world. On a happier note, plenty of other countries have already made the landmark move of electing a female leader. And basically every other country has more humane maternity leave policies than the United States.
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. There is still much work to be done.
1. Working Moms Are The Norm In U.S.
According to the United States Department of Labor, 70 percent of mothers who have children under the age of 18 participate in the labor force.
2. More Moms Are Breadwinners
As of 2012, a record 40 percent of moms are the only or primary breadwinner in the family, according to the United States Department of Labor. This is compared to 11 percent of breadwinner moms in 1960, as further explained by the DOL.
3. More Older Women Tend To Live Alone
According to The World's Women 2015: Trends and Statistics, most older persons who live in a one-person household are women.
4. Women Tend To Be More Philanthropic
When it comes to charitable giving, women are the group to watch. According to Fortune, women tend to give more to charity than men, at nearly every income bracket.
5. Women Outnumber Men In Running Events
Chances are, you know at least a few women who are dedicated marathoners. This represents a nationwide trend. According to Running USA, 57 percent of U.S. running event finishers were women in 2015. This is a dramatic increase from 1990, in which a quarter of running event finishers were women, as further noted by Running USA. (For what it's worth, the early to mid-2000s saw a dramatic increase in runners of both genders).
6. Women Are More Likely To Have College Degrees
As stated by the United States Census Bureau, for the first time since these number were recorded in 1940, women now outrank men in terms of college degree attainment. (Granted, this should not be a gender war; in a perfect world education would be easily available for everyone.)
7. Women Dominate The Accounting Industry
Sure, it's generally known that the nursing and teaching professions are dominated by women. But it may surprise you that tax preparers, insurance underwriters, and accountants are also fields in which women are the majority, as noted by Business Insider.
8. Maternity Leave In The U.S. Is Abysmal
When compared to 40 other nations, only the U.S. does not require 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. (It is worth noting that some individual states or companies in the U.S. may provide more comprehensive maternity leave policies).
9. Women's Products Cost More (In NYC At Least)
According to a study by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), products marked toward women cost about 7 percent more than similar versions for men. It looks like the pink tax is real.
10. A High Percentage Of U.S. Women Are In Prison
According to the Prison Policy Initiative, women in the United States account for only 5 percent of the world's female population, but U.S. women comprise a staggering 30 percent of the world's women in prison. Only Thailand has a similar incarceration rate of women.
11. Plus Size Is The New Average In U.S.
Aren't women's sizing conventions already arbitrary enough? According to a 2016 study in the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education, the average American woman wears a Misses size 16 to 18, which can be compared to a Women’s Plus size 20W.
12. Women Are Putting Off Marriage
As noted by the Pew Research Center, the average age of a first-time bride is now 26.5, which is an all-time high. Many women are delaying (or entirely passing on) marriage.
13. People Overestimate The Percentage Of LGBTQ People
According to Gallup, Americans tend to guess that up to 25 percent of the population identifies as gay or lesbian. Although the exact numbers may be hard to come by, this is probably a wild overestimation. In fact, it may be closer to 1 percent of the US population that identifies as lesbian, according to Statista. This may only reinforce the importance of the LGBTQ community: when you're a small part of the population, it's crucial to have a supportive community who understands you.
14. Breastfeeding Is On The Rise
As of 2011, 79 percent of newborn infants started out breastfeeding, as noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To contrast, only about 22 percent of moms breastfed their babies in 1972, as noted by The Journal of Nutrition. For such a seemingly simple act, breastfeeding can offer both baby and mother a wealth of benefits.
15. Partners Present More Danger To Women
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, partners and relatives account for roughly half of murdered women; by contrast, less than 6 percent of men are murdered by a partner. It's a sobering statistic. In general, men are more likely to be victims of homicide overall, but women are far more likely to be killed by a partner or family member.
16. Unpaid Care Often Falls To Women
Women may spend as much as tenfold their time providing care for children, persons who are ill, or the elderly, as compared to men, according to the World Bank. This unpaid care work is necessary but easy to overlook.
17. Intimate Partner Violence Is Still Common
Worldwide, approximately 30 percent of women who've been in a relationship report experiencing violence from their partner, according to the World Health Organization.
18. Too Many Women Go Missing
19. There Is A Record High Number Of Female World Leaders
As of January 2015, a record 22 women held positions of power as a world leader, as noted on J. J. McCullough's website.
20. Top Leaders Of Religions Are Rarely Female
Of the nine major U.S. religions that ordain women and permit them to serve in positions of leadership, only four have actually had a female leader in this top position, as noted by the Pew Research Center. On the whole, though, the majority of U.S. women who practice religion belong to a faith that prohibits them from leadership roles, according to Religion News Service.
21. Women Are Still Underrepresented In STEM
As stated by the U.S. Department of Commerce, women hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs in the U.S., despite the fact that women overall make up about half of the U.S. workforce.
22. Women Are Often Overlooked In The Arts
According to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, female artists make up less than 4 percent of the artists represented in the Modern Art section of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. (But, as the Guerrilla Girls shrewdly pointed out, "76 percrent of the nudes are female.") Interesting.
23. Child Brides Are Not Uncommon
According to Makers, an astounding 15 million girls under the age of 18 are married every year.
24. Female CEOs At Major Companies Are Rare
In spite of leaning in and embracing the #GIRLBOSS idea, the upper echelons of the business world are still largely male. As noted by Catalyst, only 27, or 5 percent, of S&P 500 companies have a female CEO.
25. Most Women Are In Fair To Poor Health
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 13 percent of women over the age of 18 have a fair or poor health status. On a more positive note, 61 percent of these women have an excellent to very good health status, whereas 26 percent have a good health status.
26. Heart Disease Is A Leading Cause Of Death Among Women
Heart health is important for women. According to the CDC, heart disease accounted for 22 percent of female deaths in 2014.
27. Most Refugees Are Female
As explained on Do Something, women account for 80 percent of refugees and displaced persons.
28. Most Premenopausal Women Use Birth Control
If you're a U.S. woman of reproductive age, then the odds are pretty good that you're on birth control. According to the CDC, 62 percent of women in their fertile years use some form of birth control.
29. Many U.S. Women Live In Poverty
As reported in TIME, the 2014 Shriver Report found that one out of every three American women lives in poverty (or close to it).
30. The Wage Gap Has A Racial Component
Many women's issues also intersect with class and race. For an exceptionally bleak look at the wage gap, consider that black and hispanic women make even less compared to white men. Although white women make about 83 cents for every dollar a white man makes, black women only earn 65 cents and Hispanic women get 58 cents, according to Pew Research.
31. Women Make Up Almost Half The Population
As of 2015, women make up 49.549 percent of the world's population, according to The World Bank. Here's to the continued success, well-being, and care of all those individuals.