The Status of Women in the United States: A Data Driven Overview

Trigger Warning: this post contains alarming statistics about violence against women and abortion rights that could be triggering or cause emotional distress.

The status of women in the United States is brutal. We don’t make as much money; we don’t have paid leave (shout out to California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and New York: you rock!). Conservative lawmakers and religious fundamentalists are taking our rights to our bodies away and our bodies are actively and violently invaded everyday against our will and without our consent. The status of women is painful to come to terms with and impossible to live with anymore. This fact sheet is quick and dirty, but hopefully it will inspire you to join the fight for gender equality. #GirlsCan

Employment and Earnings

  • Women earn only 78.3 cents for every dollar that a man makes.
  • Women are not projected to make equal pay until: 2038.


And it’s even worse for anyone of a minority status. African American women make 64 cents on the dollar and Latinas make only 56 cents on the dollar.


Poverty and Opportunity
The poverty rate for women (14.7 percent) was 3.8 percentage points higher than it was for men (10.9 percent). The extreme poverty rate for women (6.6 percent) was 1.7 percentage points higher than it was for men (4.9 percent).


Women make up an uneven distribution of the low paid workforce

  • Women are ⅔ of the 20 million workers in U.S. low-wage workforce
    • Women only slightly less than 50% of American workforce
  • Women’s concentration in low-wage jobs has increased
    • 35% of post recession net job gains were low-wage
    • Only 20% for men

Reproductive Rights
Women face an ongoing and uphill battle to retain the rights to their own bodies.

This term the Supreme Court will decide how far state’s rights expand into a woman’s own uterus as they consider the constitutionality of Texas Law H.B. 2 which places unfair and unethical medical standards on abortion clinics. If the Supreme Court upholds the law, all but 10 abortion clinics in the largest state in the contiguous US will be forced to close.

The national debate on access to abortion has gotten so downright nasty that many conservatives no longer support abortion in the cases of rape, because as former Missouri Todd Akin so eloquently stated, “the female body has ways of just shutting that down.”


Truth be told Todd Akin is partially correct, when women don’t have access to medically induced abortions we do shut it down, with back alleys, coat hangers, and staircases. #neveragain

Violence and Safety
Women’s Rights are human rights but looking at the statistics on violence against women we are treated like anything but human.

  • 1 in 5 women will be raped before they graduate from college
  • 1 in 9 teenage girls will be coerced or forced into having sex
  • 1 in 10 teens will experience intimate partner related violence
  • Women experience about 4.8 million intimate partner-related physical assaults and rapes every year.

These statistics are high and far too alarming. Stay tuned for a later blog post about the violent state of women in America that further unpacks key statistics, laws and resources for women in the battle against sexual assault and sexual violence.

LGBTQIA Community and Sexual and Domestic Violence
Here for our thoughts on recent discriminatory laws passed in Mississippi and North Carolina? Stay tuned, stick around, and keep that angry curiosity alive. The posts are coming. But in the meantime….

Gender stereotyping means many in the LGBTQIA community are left out of the discussion on domestic and sexual violence even though they are often one of the most at risk populations. According to the CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey:

  • 44 percent of lesbians and 61 percent of bisexual women experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 35 percent of heterosexual women
  • 46 percent of bisexual women have been raped, compared to 17 percent of heterosexual women and 13 percent of lesbians
  • 22 percent of bisexual women have been raped by an intimate partner, compared to 9 percent of heterosexual women

This fact sheet is a toughie. It was not fun to write and it is not fun to read because contrary to what Cyndi Lauper says girls just want fundamental rights.

But we have to fight for the things we care about and take umbrage at those who think us less.  So keep your favorite Audre Lorde quotes on standby, Beyoncé on repeat, and your self-care squad on speed dial. It’s going to be a wicked and wild month of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Uteruses before dudereses. Stay strong my lady identifying friends and allies!
Peace, love, and pissed about the patriarchy,

Caroline E. Swaller
Dual MPP/MA WGSS ‘17


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