Free Interactive Report
Gender Equality in the US
By 2030, SDG 5, Gender Equality, aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. It addresses gender inequalities present in many parts of society – including equal access to education, work, healthcare, and political representation. It also highlights the need to ensure safe and inclusive workplaces and communities for women and girls.
Gender Equality in the US in Context
Globally, women hold around 1/4 of national parliament seats and make up 70% of health and social workers. 42% of working-age women are not part of the paid workforce, compared to just 6% of men. Additionally, 80% of domestic workers worldwide are women, where they generally lack equal protection under labor laws, minimum wage, limits on work hours, and access to benefits compared to other positions. 750 million women and girls were married before the age of 18, and 1 in 5 women aged 15 to 49 experience personal violence by an intimate partner.
It's estimated that it will take around 200 years to achieve gender equality in the US:
- Women make up more than 50% of the population, but only 26% of members of Congress, 5% of CEOs at Fortune 500 firms, and 34% of STEM degree recipients.
- Women earn on average just 84% of what men make.
Income and Work
In the US, men and women make up almost equal shares of the labor force, 53% and 47% respectively.
63% of workers earning the federal minimum wage ($7.25) are women compared to only 5% of CEOs at Fortune 500 firms.
Women in the US earn less than men, on average, in all sectors. Among full-time workers, white women only earned 82 cents for every dollar a man earned in 2019, and Black women only 62 cents. While differences in occupation, hours worked, years of experience, and education are all factors contributing to the difference in pay, they do not account for the entire gap. Discrimination and bias based on gender, race, and/or ethnicity plays a significant role in decreasing women’s earnings from unequal pay. Regardless of their employment status, women also do considerably more unpaid work related to managing a home and caring for other household members including children and the elderly.
Education and Political Representation
Women comprise 56% of college students but owe nearly two-thirds of the $1.7 trillion in outstanding student loan debt, and only make up 36% of bachelors degrees and 34% master’s degrees in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).
In 2020 the US reached a major milestone for women in politics with the election of Kamala Harris as Vice President. She is the first woman, and also the first woman of color, the first Black person, and the first South Asian person elected to this office.
A record number of women not only ran for office in the 2020 election, but more women than ever before are serving in elected positions at the state and federal level.
However, even with these trends, the US is far from reaching equality in this area. In 2021:
- 141 women serve in the US Congress; 24 in the Senate and 117 in the House. That's only 26% of members of Congress.
- 2,280 women serve in State legislatures; 560 in Senates and 1,720 in Houses/Assemblies (only 31% of positions).
- 9 of the 50 Governors are women.
- Only 9% (49) of members of Congress, 6% of the statewide elective executives, and 8% of state legislators are women of color.
Explore More Using Our Interactive Report
This interactive report is continuously updated and it is free thanks to X4Impact Founding Partners. The report highlights some selected gender equality indicators.
You can view statistics like the gender pay gap and trends on women’s representation in Congress nationally, or by state. You can also understand the flow of money to fund nonprofits working on gender equality, as well as exploring by state the list of nonprofits that work on this issue.
Women vs Men
The Negative Effects of Gender Inequality
A person's level of safety and security within society profoundly affects their economic status, health, civic engagement, and overall well-being. Unfortunately, violence and abuse affect women and girls across our communities, with many of these instances happening early in life (before age 25) and are preventable. According to the CDC's latest National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey:
- 1 in 5 women experienced completed or attempted rape during her lifetime, 81% before the age of 25
- 44% of women (nearly 52.2 million) experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime
- Nearly 1 in 6 women (16%, or 19.1 million) in the US were victims of stalking
- 1 in 4 women experienced violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner
Bullying and teen dating violence is also a serious concern for girls - the latest Status of Women in the States Report found an estimated 21% of girls (compared to 8.5% of boys) said they had been bullied in the past 12 months through electronic means.
The Economic Impact of the Gender Pay Gap
In 2019, the gender wage gap resulted in women making $545.7 billion less than men, around $9,613.13 per woman, that could have gone towards student loan and mortgage payments, child care, groceries, emergency expenses and more.
Additionally, both pension plan and Social Security payouts are partially determined by past earnings. Therefore the gender pay gap means women not only earn less over their career but also end up with fewer post-retirement resources.
Households led by single women with children had a poverty rate of 35.6%, more than twice the rate for households led by single men with children (17.3%). This is especially significant, as households are much more likely to be led by a single mother than a single father.
Key Indicators of Success Defined by the United Nations for UN SDG 5
The United Nations has defined 9 Targets and 14 Indicators to track progress towards reaching the Sustainable Development Goal of Gender Equality by 2030 including:
- The proportion of women and girls over 15 subjected to physical, sexual, or psychological violence by a current or former intimate partner or another person.
- The amount of time spent on unpaid domestic and care work by women vs men.
- The proportion of seats held by women in federal, state, and local governments.
- The percentage of women in executive and other managerial positions.
- Ease of access to sexual and reproductive health care, information, and education.
- Graduation rates from high school and higher education
- The proportion of women receiving degrees and working in STEM and other fields.
* Paid Family Leave: Paid family leave laws provide parents and caregivers time off to address a serious health condition (including pregnancy), care for a family member with a serious health condition, address family circumstances arising from a military service member's deployment, or care for a newborn, newly-adopted child, or newly-placed foster child.
Interactive Tool Sources:
- Paid Family Leave: Kaiser Family Foundation, Paid Family and Sick Leave in the US, January 2020.
- Pay Gap: X4Impact analysis and classification of US Census Bureau 2020 data.
- Women in Congress: X4Impact Analysis of Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP). CAWP Women Elected Officials Database. Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University-New Brunswick, accessed March, 2021.
- Nonprofit-related data: X4Impact analysis of over one million forms 990 filed with the Internal Revenue Service -IRS 2018-2021
- Catalyst – Women in Healthcare
- Inequality.org – Gender Economic Inequality
- Center for American Progress – Raising the Minimum Wage Would Be Transformative for Women
- Center for American Progress – The Basic Facts About Women in Poverty
- Center for American Women and Politics – Women of Color in Elected Office 2021
- Center for American Women and Politics – Women in Elected Office 2021
- Catalyst – Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)
- Equitable Growth – Factsheet: Gender wage inequality in the United States and what to do about it
- Center for American Progress – Quick Facts About the Gender Wage Gap
- SDG Tracker – SDG 5