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Women in America - Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being

Obama Administration's Report on Women Finds Big Gains, Room for Improvement

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Updated March 04, 2011
On March 1, 2011, the first day of Women's History Month, the Obama administration released Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being, a comprehensive report on women's lives in the United States.

A joint effort of the White House Council on Women and Girls, the Office of Management and Budget and the Economics and Statistics Administration within the Department of Commerce, the report offers what Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett describes as "a statistical portrait of how women are faring in America today...and a look back at women's lives and a guidepost as we move forward."

Drawing on data compiled by Federal statistical agencies, the report examines five key areas:

  • People, Families and Income
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Health
  • Crime and Violence
In bringing together empirical data on the condition of women and girls, the report highlights how far American women have come and indicates where improvements may be made to better the lives of women and girls.

The findings of the report are detailed below:

People, Families, and Income

  • While the populations of both men and women are aging, women continue to outnumber men at older ages
  • Both women and men are delaying marriage
  • Fewer women are married than in the past
  • More women than in the past have never had a child
  • Women are giving birth to their first child at older ages
  • Women are having fewer children
  • Most adults live in households headed by married couples; single-mother households are more common than single-father households
  • Women are more likely than men to be in poverty
Education
  • Women’s gains in educational attainment have significantly outpaced those of men over the last 40 years
  • Female students score higher than males on reading assessments and lower than males on mathematics assessments
  • Higher percentages of women than men age 25–34 have earned a college degree
  • More women than men have received a graduate education
  • Women earn the majority of conferred degrees overall but earn fewer degrees than men in science and technology
  • Higher percentages of women than men participate in adult education
Employment
  • After decades of significant increases, the labor force participation rate for women has held steady in recent years
  • Unemployment rates for women have risen less than for men in recent recessions
  • More women than men work part time, and women and men have roughly equal access to flexible work schedules
  • Education pays for both women and men,but the pay gap persists
  • Women and men continue to work in different occupations
  • Female-headed families have the lowest family earnings among all family types
  • In families where both husband and wife are employed, employed wives spend more time in household activities than do employed husbands
  • Women are more likely than men to do volunteer work
Health
  • Women have longer life expectancy than men, but the gap is decreasing
  • Women are almost 40 percent more likely than men to report difficulty walking
  • More women than men report having a chronic medical condition
  • Females age 12 and older are more likely than males to report experiencing depression
  • More than one-third of all women age 20 and older are obese
  • Less than half of all women meet the Federal physical activity guidelines for aerobic activity
  • In 2008, the cesarean rate was the highest ever reported in theUnited States
  • Many women do not receive specific recommended preventive care
  • The share of women age18–64 without health insurance has increased
  • One out of seven women age18–64 has no usual source of healthcare
Crime and Violence
  • Nonfatal violent crimes against women declined between1993 and 2008
  • Homicides of females declined between 1993 and 2008
  • Nonfatal attacks on women by intimate partners declined between 1994 and 2008
  • Reported rape rates declined during the 1990s and have remained stable in recent years
  • Women are at greater risk than men for stalking victimization
  • Females account for a small but growing share of persons arrested for violent crimes other than homicide
  • Females are convicted more frequently for property crimes than for violent crimes
  • The imprisonment rate for females has increased significantly

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