Women’s History Month offers us a chance to celebrate how far women have come in different spheres including the working world.
From our founding, when women didn’t work much outside of their homes until now, life for American women is vastly different. Employment granted women access to their own resources, expanded incomes for American families, and helped women gain greater independence.
Today, nearly half of U.S. workers are women and, in many cases, these working women are entirely supporting their families. Half of working women say they work because they are their family’s primary breadwinner, up from just over a third in 2000.
Take a look at these facts about women in the workforce:
1. Women have seen historic employment gains.
The unemployment rate for women was 3.9 percent in January, nearly the lowest it has been in 65 years. (Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis)
Women in the workforce are on the rise, while men are on the decline.
The share of the labor force comprised of men fell from 71.4 percent in 1948 to 53.2 percent in 2016. Meanwhile, the share of women rose from 28.6 percent to 46.8 percent.
The gap between the share of men and women in the labor force has narrowed from 42.8 percent to 6.4 percent. (Department of Labor)
2. Women-owned businesses have skyrocketed with no end in sight.
3. The number of women-owned businesses increased dramatically rising from 402,000 (4.6 percent of all firms) in 1972 to 12.3 million (40 percent of all firms) in 2018. (2018 State of Women-Owned Businesses)
4. Women started an average of 1,821 new businesses per day in the U.S. between 2017 and 2018. (Business Wire)
5. Almost four times as many women earned a bachelor's degree in 2016 than in 1970. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
6. Women outnumber men in graduate school 137 to 100. (Council of Graduate Schools)
7. Over one third (about 36 percent) of women born in the years 1980–84 earned a bachelor's degree by age 31, compared with 28 percent of men. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
8. For example, two out of three physician assistants are women in a position that carries a median annual salary of about $91,000. A whopping 98 percent of dental hygienists are women and they earn a median salary of $70,200 annually. Almost three out of four physical therapists are women and they earn a median salary of about $80,000 annually. (Department of Labor)
9. Women today are more educated than four decades ago and more educated than men.
10. Women dominate a number of high-paying, in-demand jobs.
There is undoubtedly much more for women to accomplish in the workforce. Women still lag behind men in many other high-paying careers and just 5 percent of Fortune 500 companies have female CEOs. Some of these differences are driven by choices and trade-offs that women make.
Nevertheless, looking at these data points, we’ve come far and that is a lot to applaud.