Over the last two decades women in the United States have made great strides toward professional and financial advancement. Women’s role in every aspect of the American life is growing and will play a critical role in shaping the future. Over the last thirty years, women have made up an increasing share of the workforce. Wage inequality is decreasing. Women are projected to surpass men in wages as more of them earn college degrees and their value and contribution to the workplace is more fully acknowledged and appreciated.
Some of the most promising signs are in the following areas:
- Women account for almost half of the labor force, and they earn 79-cents for every dollar their male counterpart (for the same job) makes and are gaining ground.
- 50 percent of the law and medical degree earners are women.
- Contribution of wives’ earnings to family income has increased from 27 percent in 1980 to 37 percent by 2011.
- Seventy-one percent of women who graduated high school in 2012 enrolled in college following graduation compared to 63 percent in 1994. At the same time, it remained unchanged for men at 61 percent.
- The number of Fortune 500 women CEOs reached a historic high to 24 in 2014 compared to only one in 1998.
- Full-time working women contribute more than half of their household income on average compared to 25 percent a generation ago.
- Women’s median hourly wages increased by 50 percent or more over one generation.
- A record 108 women (88 in the House and 20 in the Senate), the highest number ever to serve in the 114th Congress as of January 2015, compared to only 11 (10 in the House and 1 in the Senate) in 1970.
There are more self-made women billionaires than before, such as Diane Hendricks of ABC Supply, Jin Sook Chang of Fashion 21, Judy Love of Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores, Marian Ilitch of Little Caesars Pizza, and Sara Blakely of Spanx. Some of the more visible women corporate leaders are Sheila Johnson of BET Networks, Mary Barra of General Motors, Indra Nooyi of Pepsi, and Sheri McCoy of Avon Products. These women, and many others, are not only leading the way toward gender equality in the executive boardroom, they are also mentoring the potential future women executives.