Kristen Schaal is a gift

Today, women make up half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong. And in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. Women deserve equal pay for equal work.

She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or a sick parent without running into hardship. And you know what? A father does too. It is time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a Mad Men episode.


PRESIDENT OBAMA, during the State of the Union.


But the wage gap varies significantly by race, according to an analysis from the research organization AAUW. While white women experienced that 78 percent figure, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women made 65 percent of what white men made in 2013, African-American women made 64 percent, American Indian and Alaska Native women made 59 percent, and Hispanic women made just 54 percent. Asian-American women are the only group doing better than white women, making 90 percent of white men’s earnings.

Woah, staggering.

Hey everyone! Betsey Stevenson here from President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. In honor of Women’s Equality Day, I’ll be taking over I Love Charts to tell the story of the progress we’ve made in closing the earnings gap between women and men, and the challenges women still face in the workforce. 

Let’s get started. Our first chart shows how women are increasingly contributing to family income and now make up about half the workforce. Since 2000, women’s labor force participation has dropped slightly, but most of that is because of cyclical factors and an aging population. While older women participate in the workforce at lower rates than younger women, the percent of older women who are working has increased since the mid-1990s, partially offsetting the overall decline.

At the other end of the spectrum, young women are more likely to be enrolled in school than they were a generation ago, and that’s good news. Since students (even ones who work part-time) are not considered to be in the labor force, increased school enrollment will depress the participation rate.

Wanna wonk out some more on this stuff? Check out our report on “Women’s Participation in Education and the Workforce.”

“So, let’s get this straight: Sen. Ted Cruz — the guy who wants to restrict women’s rights and access to health care, opposes policies that support families’ economic security, and once shut down the government to take away health care from millions of people — wants to be president? No thanks.” 

As seen on the Planned Parenthood Action Facebook page

When female athletes are paid unequally – or nothing – it compounds the very clear message that they are seen as lesser: less interesting, less important, less real – and this is true in sports where it seems there is parity. Serena Williams made $11m in sponsorship deals last year – poor ol’ deprived Federer made $52m. Ask yourself why it is the men’s, and not the women’s, final that is the big closing event in tennis grand slams, or why the men’s 100m gets so much Olympics coverage and the women’s is barely acknowledged. Compare the coverage of England’s women cricketers winning the Ashes this year with the amount devoted to Kevin Pietersen’s silly book.

Heck, women weren’t even allowed to compete in various sports until recently: women’s football was banned by the FA on FA-affiliated grounds until 1971; Olympic women’s marathons were banned until 1984; and the women’s ski-jump was kept out of the Olympics until 2014. Yes, 2014 (“It seems not appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view,” demurred the International Ski Federation president in 2005, clutching his handkerchief.) On Thursday Frank Warren wrote in the Independent that women shouldn’t box. On Tuesday an FA official was suspended for telling a female referee that “Your place is in the kitchen”. But remember! Sexism is not the root problem here.

Next up, let’s talk about college: Women now make up the majority of college and graduate students. Nice work!

Since the mid-1990s:

  1. A greater share of young women have obtained four-year college degrees than men.
  2. The share of young women enrolled in both undergraduate and graduate study has increased.
  3. Most 18 to 34 year-old students are enrolled in undergraduate programs, and the percent enrolled in graduate school has gone way up.

Today, the share of young women enrolled in graduate school is more than 25% higher than the share of men. Learn more about how President Obama’s fighting to make college more affordable for women (and men).