The nation’s first Women’s Day celebration was in New York City in 1909. By the early 1980s, cities and states across the county were marking the occasion and Congress passed a resolution designating March as Women's History Month in 1987.
So, how are women doing nationwide since the first Women’s History Month 36 years ago? USAFacts collected metrics from various aspects of American life for a data snapshot of women in the United States. Women are getting more STEM degrees than a decade ago and more women are serving in the US Congress than any prior. Other numbers show where there are still disparities with American men.
Here are 10 facts to consider this Women’s History Month:
2. Since 1946, the nation has had more females than males. Women made up 50.5% of the total population in 2021.
3. Women-owned businesses were 24.7% of all businesses in Hawaii — the most of any state. Virginia had the second most, with women owning 23.7% of all businesses in 2018. California had the most businesses owned by women (149,927), but due to the large number of firms in the state overall, it’s not among the top 10 states for businesses owned by women by percentage.
4. Women-owned businesses in arts, entertainment, and recreation grew 10.5% between 2017 and 2018, from 22,219 to 24,542, according to the Census Bureau. In 2018, approximately 16.8% of the nation’s 1.1 million women-owned businesses were in the professional, scientific, and tech services sector, compared to 14.3% for all companies in the sector.
5. The number of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) degrees women received increased 93% since the 2008–2009 academic year. Women earned 276,429 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics degrees in the 2020–2021 academic year, up from 143,018 between 2008–2009. Despite this increase, women were 35% of all STEM degree recipients in the 2020–2021 school year.
6. Half of women ages 55 to 66 have no personal retirement savings, while 47% of men in the same age group do. However, with 65% of men and 58% of women ages 55 to 66 being married, their amount of available retirement savings is difficult to assess.
7. Vermont elected Becca Balint to its only House of Representatives seat in 2022, becoming the last state to send a woman to the US Congress. Seventeen states have sent women to the House of Representatives. Alaska, Mississippi, and North Dakota have sent women to the Senate. Thirty states have sent women to both houses of Congress.
8. In 2022, 56.8% of women were in the labor force. Women’s labor force participation increased throughout the 20th century, peaking at 60% in 1999.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics specifically measures the labor force as the civilian, non-institutional population (including incarcerated people and people in assisted-care facilities) that is 16 years or older and either working or actively looking for work.
9. Life expectancy decreased for a second year in a row, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. In 2021, life expectancy for US women was 79.3 years, down from 79.9 the year prior. This decrease is largely due to the number of deaths during the coronavirus pandemic.
10. A record 129 women are serving as House representatives and delegates in the 118th Congress. Twenty-five women serving in the Senate. In total, 154 women members serve in the 118th Congress. Virginia’s Rep. Jennifer McClellan was sworn in after winning a special election in the state’s fourth Congressional district in 2023. She is the first Black woman elected to Congress from Virginia.
See more facts about women in the US, including the rise of women in the workforce in the 2010s. And for even more demographic snapshots of the US, see these 10 facts for Black History Month, these in-depth looks at Asian American data and Hispanic American data. Get the data directly in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter.
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