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White House Study on Women in America

On March 1, 2011, the White House released a report entitled “Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being.” The report, prepared by various government agencies for the White House Council on Women and Girls, utilizes 2009 data compared to data compiled in prior years to find that women are more educated and better represented than ever before in the workforce, but they earn about 75 percent of what their male counterparts make.

The report highlights areas including income, family, health, education, employment, and crime and violence against women.  It concluded that women are outpacing men in getting college degrees, marrying at a later age, and having fewer children on average as a result of their focus on careers.

Among the key report findings are the following:

  • Women ages 25 to 34 are now more  likely than men of that age group to have attained a college degree,  reversing what was the norm 40 years ago. In fact, women are expected to  account for nearly 60 percent of total undergraduate enrollment by 2019.
  • From 1975 to 2000, the labor force  participation rate of mothers with children under age 18 rose from 47 percent to a peak of 73 percent. This rate receded to about 71 percent in 2004, where it has remained through 2009. Unmarried mothers had a higher labor force participation rate than their married counterparts, 76 percent compared to 70 percent in 2009.
  • Women have long earned the great majority of degrees conferred in health and education fields, especially nursing and teaching at the primary and secondary levels. This disparity has increased since 1998.
  • The labor force participation rate for women (age 20 and older) nearly doubled between 1948 (32 percent) and 1997 (61 percent). Since 1997, it has held steady (61 percent in 2009). The
    labor force participation rate for men (age 20 and older) has fallen from about 89 percent in 1948 to 75 percent in 2009.

Still, women atevery educational level and at every age spend fewer weeks in the labor force than do men (perhaps due to leaving the office to have children), although the time clock disparity diminishes for those with college degrees or greater education.

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