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American Women: Family and Work Roles Changing While Pay Inequality, High Poverty Risk Continue

By HERWriter Guide
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Wellness related image Photo: Getty Images

A new, comprehensive national report on the status of American women shows significant life changes in recent decades - as well as a lack of progress in key areas impacting self sufficiency.

Women are earning higher levels of education, are spending more hours working (both in and outside the home) than men, and are volunteering more of their time to the community and yet continue to earn less than men and face a higher risk of poverty. According to the report, whatever their level of education, women earn about 75 cents for every dollar a man earns.

The White House report on the status of American women is the first comprehensive federal report on women in more than four decades. Titled "Women in America," it focuses on five critical areas: people, families and income; education; employment; health; and crime and violence, and was issued March 1, 2011. The report is accompanied by a website that compiles in one place some of the vast Federal statistical data concerning women: http://wh.gov/data-on-women

The last such report was done in 1963, when the Commission on the Status of Women, established by President Kennedy and chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, produced a report on the conditions of women.

Highlights from the new report include:

EDUCATION: Women have not only caught up with men in college attendance but younger women are now more likely than younger men to have a college or a graduate degree. Women are also working more and the number of women and men in the labor force has nearly equalized in recent years. As women’s work has increased, their earnings constitute a growing share of family income.

INCOME: Gains in education and labor force involvement have not yet translated into wage and income equity. At all levels of education, women earned about 75 percent of what their male counterparts earned in 2009. In part because of these lower earnings and in part because unmarried and divorced women are the most likely to have responsibility for raising and supporting their children, women are more likely to be in poverty than men. These economic inequities are even more acute for women of color.

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