In 1963 the Beatles released their first album, the X-Men comic is first released, America first heard the words “I have a dream”, and America mourned the loss of President Kennedy. The year 1963 was also the last time we had a comprehensive report on the conditions of women.
Fortunately for us, the Obama Administration felt 48 years was long enough and has given us our first look at a post-Equal Protection Act era. The White House’s recently released report: Women In America highlights how far women have come, but also how far we have to go.
How far we’ve come:
- The labor force participation rate for women (age 20 and older) nearly doubled between 1948 (32 percent) and 1997 (61 percent).
- Women are considerably more likely to work year round than they were in past decades. In 2009, 75 percent of women worked year round, up from 51 percent in 1968.
- Earnings of full-time female workers have risen by 31 percent since 1979, compared to a 2 percent rise in male earnings.
How far we’ve yet to go:
- At all levels of education, women earned about 75 percent as much as their male counterparts in 2009.
- Compared to the earnings of all men (of all race and ethnic groups), Black women earned 71 percent and Hispanic women earned 62 percent as much in 2009. White and Asian women earned 82 percent and 95 percent as much as all men, respectively.
- In 2008, female-headed families with children earned 30 percent less than their counterparts without children, although their earnings grew faster (43 percent) than the other family types between 1988 and 2008.
- In 2009, 28 percent of working women who were unmarried with children had incomes below the poverty level, compared to a poverty rate of 8 percent among all female workers and 6 percent among male workers.
The report is a fascinating read stuffed full of information not just about women in the work force, but the changing role of marriage and motherhood, our increasing education, the health of women (physically and mentally) and their access to health services, and the rates of crime and violence involving women as both perpetrators and victims.
Hopefully we won’t have to wait another 48 years for our next report.