21 Stats and Facts – Women & the Workplace

  1. The percentage of adults who are married declined between 1970 and 2009, from 72 percent to 62 percent for women and from 84 percent to 66 percent for men.
  2. In 2009, 15 percent of women and 20 percent of men had never married, compared to 7 percent and 9 percent, respectively, in 1970.
  3. In 2008, about 18 percent of women age 40–44 (the latter part of peak childbearing years) have never had a child, almost doubled that in 1976 (10 percent).
  4. The typical age at which women have their first child has been rising in recent decades. There has been a steep rise in the share of women age 25–29 (early in their childbearing years) who have not had a child, rising from 31 percent in 1976 to about 46 percent in 2008.
  5. The likelihood of a woman having her first child at age 30 or older increased roughly six-fold from about 4 percent of all first-time mothers in the 1970s to 24 percent in 2007.
  6. Among women age 25–29 in 2008, only 19 percent of those with less than a high school education had not had a child, compared to 31 percent of high school graduates and 72 percent of those with at least a college degree.
  7. Women now enroll in greater numbers than men in both undergraduate and graduate institutions.
  8. Women age 25–34 are now more likely than men of that age group to have attained a college degree, reversing the norm of 40 years ago.
  9. Among women age 25–64 in the labor force, 36 percent held college degrees in 2009, compared to 11 percent in 1970.
  10. In contrast, the share of men with a college degree increased by one-half.
  11. Over the same period, the proportion of women workers with less than a high school diploma fell from 34 percent to 7 percent.
  12. Women earned about 57 percent of all college degrees conferred in 2007–2008. By 2019, women are projected to account for nearly 60 percent of total undergraduate enrollment.
  13. Between 1997 and 2007, the increase in female full-time graduate students was nearly double that of males.
  14. In 1998, more doctoral degrees were conferred to men than to women. A decade later, more doctoral degrees were conferred to women than men. In 2008, women accounted for 59 percent of graduate school enrollment.
  15. In 1970, only 8 percent of women and 14 percent of men were college graduates.  Today, women have caught up with men in the percentage who have at least a college degree, about 28 percent for each group in 2009.
  16. In 2008, for all race/ethnic subgroups, a higher percentage of bachelor’s and master’s degrees were earned by women than men. For non-Hispanic Black, Hispanic, and non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaskan Native groups, more than 60 percent of bachelor’s and master’s degrees were earned by women.
  17. The labor force participation rate for women increased from about 33 percent in 1950 to 61 percent in 1999.
  18. During the first decade of this century, labor force participation has held steady at around 61 percent. In contrast, men’s labor force participation rate has declined steadily since the 1950s.
  19. 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.
  20. A larger share of women now works in management, professional, and related occupations. In 2009, women accounted for 51 percent of all persons employed in these occupations, somewhat more than their share of total employment (47 percent).
  21. Since Individuals with higher levels of education generally have better access to higher paying jobs than do individuals with less education, women have been beating the pants off the men for the better jobs.


Ira S Wolfe