women in the workforce statistics
By Raj Vardhman | February 7, 2021 | 0 Comments

30 Powerful Women in the Workforce Statistics for 2021

Although there has been some notable progress in the women’s labor force participation in the past 20 years, the disparity between men and women when it comes to their roles in the workforce is still remarkable. 

Women in the workforce statistics show that whether it’s the wages they earn, the employment rates, the types of jobs they get, or the economic security, there is some level of inequality. 

Clearly, there is a lot to be done to advance the efforts towards economic equality—at the current rate, the amount of time needed to close the gender gap is roughly 217 years.

Not everything is so gloomy, though,—read on to find out where the society’s getting it right. 

Essential Statistics On Women In The Workforce (Editor’s Choice)

 

  • Women in the US have a 56.2% workforce participation rate.
  • The global labor force participation rate for women was 47% pre-pandemic.
  • The unemployment rate for black women is at a high 9.2%.
  • The labor participation rate of women with children under the age of 18 is 72.3%.
  • Only 26.5% of the US Congress seats are held by women in 2021.
  • The number of women-owned businesses grew by 21% from 2014–2019.
  • Women get paid more than men in only 34 out of 550 listed jobs.

 

Encouraging Women in the Workplace Statistics

Women have come a long way since 1920 when only 20% of them formed a part of the labor force. Read on to see just how much the situation has changed in recent years.

1. A total of 56.2% of women in the US are a part of the workforce.

(BLS)

Just over half of them (51.5%) are currently employed. Statistics on women in the workforce imply that the age group with the highest participation rate is 25–29 year-olds—76.8% of them are employed at the moment. 

On the other hand, 67.7% of men over the age of 16 participate in the labor force.

2. In the 2015–2020 period, the number of women in C-Suite grew by 17–21%.

(LeanIn & McKinsey)

So has the number of women in senior vice-presidential roles, where figures have spiked by 23–28%. 

While the percentage of women in the workforce shows there has been a steady growth in the second half of the last decade, it’s important to note that women of color are still severely underrepresented in the key roles in their workplace—they claim only 3% of spots in the C-Suite.

3. Women faced historically high levels of unemployment in 2020—eight million were looking for work. 

(IWPR)

While the pandemic impacted everyone, women in the workforce—especially women of color—are disproportionately affected today, compared to Caucasian men.

Out of 1.8 million workers put on a non-farm payroll in June 2020, 64.6% were women. Women’s jobs deficit was 9% down from February 2020, compared to a 7.8% difference for men. 

4. Women represent 82% of all social workers in the US.

(Department of Labor)

Numbers show there are some occupations where women have a higher representation rate when it comes to employment. According to the Labor Department, women represent the majority of social workers in America (82%). 

Some other notable professions include speech-language pathologists (98%), dental assistants (93%), physical therapists (69%), and pharmacists (60%).

5. Only 20% of women were part of the workforce in 1920.

(Brookings)

This is what female labor force participation rate by year numbers tell us. 

They were categorized as “gainful workers,” a term describing people working outside of the home. Those women were, for the most part, young and unmarried. In fact—only 5% of working women in that period of the last century were married.

Apart from the cultural norms at that time, the trend has a lot to do with education; namely, only 2% of 18–24 year-olds pursued higher education, and only one–third of them were women.

6. The participation rate in the labor force for women was 47% pre-pandemic.

(ILO)

Workplace statistics by gender still indicates an enormous disparity, as men’s participation rate was at 74%, according to the latest data. 

Experts believe that the notable difference is due to cultural and societal impact in some of the less progressive regions of the country.

7. 60% of working women would earn more than men if paid based on the same working hours and education level.

(Hamilton Project)

Women in the workforce statistics show that much of the labor market disadvantage experienced by women would be resolved through well-designed work-family policies such as equal scheduling and paid family leave. 

Many reports argue that boosting women’s pay would—apart from being a considerable step towards equality—help the US economy itself, as it would see a GDP growth of 2.8% in 2016. 

8. Zimbabwe has the highest percentage of females in the workforce with 52.8%

(Quartz Africa)

The Sub-Saharan African region has the highest rates of women in the workplace.

The top five countries on this list include Zimbabwe (52.8%), Malawi (52.2%), Gambia (50.8%), Liberia (50.6%), and Tanzania (50.5%). A possible explanation for this is that they are more likely to be a part of the informal economy. 

9. 15.61 million women were employed in the last quarter of 2019 in the UK.

(UK Parliament)

So, what percentage of the UK workforce is female? The latest figures indicate it’s 47.45%. The number is 298,000 higher than one year earlier. This also marks almost 2 million (1.94) more women participating in the UK’s labor force, compared to a decade ago.

There are 9.31 million women employed in a full-time working arrangement, with 6.3 million holding part-time jobs in 2019.

10. Unemployment rate for black women is at a high 9.2%.

(IWPR) 

The figures are similar for Hispanic women, as well, with the unemployment rate being 9%. The race disparity is especially apparent if we know that the same report shows 6.5% unemployment among Caucasian women.

11. The percentage of women leaders by industry is lower than 50%.

(LinkedIn) 

Data from LinkedIn was used to study gender pay in 12 different industries providing some exciting results—while some industries were more diverse than others, none showed a truly equal gender distribution.

In all 12 of the analyzed industries, statistics showed less than half of the leadership positions were held by women. The industries with the lowest representation are manufacturing and energy, with women holding less than 20% of leadership positions. Moreover, women of color have it worse, as black women represent only 1.73% of all legal representatives in America.

12. 33% of women have never had substantial interaction with senior leaders about work.

(The Muse)

These eye-opening statistics about women in the workforce today reveal a lower percentage of women engaging in meaningful interactions with senior leaders concerning their work. This is important as these interactions may well affect whom the company retains and increase the likelihood of negotiating a promotion.

What’s more, it can also make the difference when the time comes to fill a new leadership position—fewer interactions with senior leaders spell fewer opportunities overall. 

13. 25.4% of all working women are employed in agriculture, statistics show. 

(World Bank)

The numbers started dropping in the early 90s. The percentage of women in agriculture in 1991 was at 42.9%, a figure it never reached since. 

While the drop was less steep at the start, the figures plummeted by the beginning of the new millennium. From 2003–2020, 13% fewer women chose agriculture as their job.

14. Statistics on female employment in India indicate that only 20.52% of women are in the workforce.

(Statista)

If these numbers are any indication of Indian women’s path to economic equality, then there’s a long way to go—in 2005, the percentage of women who participated in the labor force was 31.79%. That year it dropped by around six percentage points and it kept plummeting ever since.

Mothers In The Workforce Statistics—The Effect of Motherhood

women in the workforce statistics 1

Photo by Dakota Corbin

While only a century ago, it was almost unthinkable that a married woman can be anything other than a mother and a homemaker, things shifted—slowly, but notably.

More women than ever are getting an education, and more women than ever are choosing a career over family life. 

15. The labor participation rate of women with children under the age of 18 is 72.3%. 

(BLS)

Statistics show that the number of women in the workforce with underage children has grown by 0.8% since the previous year. Women who are married with children are less likely to participate in the labor force—69.9%. By comparison, unmarried mothers have a participation rate of 77.6%.  

16. Northeast America has the highest concentration of female breadwinners—44.5%.

(American Progress)

The latest available data indicates that the percentage of working mothers who were primary or only earning family members is currently 41%—meaning that those who are married are making more than their spouses. 

Additionally, 23% of mothers earn at least a quarter of the total household income and are considered co-breadwinners. 

17. There are 35 million working mothers in the US.

(CNBC)

Out of those 35 million participating in the workforce, 9.8 million women reportedly suffer from workplace burnout.

The same statistics show that working mothers are 28% more likely to face burnout than their male counterparts.

18. 43% of working mothers leave their jobs during the first year of having a baby.

(Maven Clinic)

While this percentage is a pre-pandemic number, we can argue that the previously mentioned figures on workplace burnout contribute a lot to this trend. 

If the companies find ways to reduce burnout, they are 20 times more likely to stick around.

Male vs Female Employment Statistics To Know In 2021

women in the workforce statistics 2

Photo by Dainis Graveris

The reality of gender disparity in the workplace is a tale all too familiar, but how far have the US—and the rest of the world—come in the fight for economic equality? Let’s take a look at what the numbers suggest.

19. For every 100 men hired and promoted to a management position, only 72 women achieve the same feat.

(Grant Thornton)

The statistics show that gender discrimination in the workplace is alive and well.

Global figures indicate that, while the number of women in senior management roles grew by 7% in the period of 2015–2019, the male-female ratio hadn’t changed in 2020. Of course, part of the reason for stagnation might be due to pandemic, as the entire economy has taken a hit. 

20. 29.5 million women active in the workforce have at least a bachelor’s degree-level education.

(Pew Research)

Women employment statistics mark 2019 as the first year ever that women make the majority of labor participants with a college degree. Men are still close in numbers, as 29.3 million of them have a college education.

The growth since 2000 is remarkable—from 45.1% at the start of the century to 50.2% in 2019, when the data was last reported.

21. Only 26.5% of the US Congress seats are held by women in 2021. 

(Rutgers)

Women in government are still too few, statistics show. Just 142 out of 535 members of Congress are female—118 (or 27.1%) in the House of Representatives, and 24 in the Senate (24%).

There are four more women as the non-voting delegates in the United States House of Representatives. 

22. Women earn $0.98 to every $1 men make at the same job.

(PayScale) 

The so-called controlled pay gap is the difference in earnings between a man and a woman with equal qualifications, doing the same work—once again underlining male vs female employment statistics.  

While it’s not nearly as wide as the uncontrolled gender pay gap—the wage disparity between men and women across all industries and levels of education, as well positions in firms, is $0.81 to one dollar—it’s still a disturbing fact.

23. The number of women-owned businesses grew by 21% from 2014 to 2019. 

(American Express) 

What’s even more encouraging is that the number of women of color owning a business has grown at a double pace in the same period by 43%, statistics show.

The overall number of new businesses grew by 9% in the same period. 

24. 41% of women are reportedly engaged in the workplace. 

(Peakon) 

At the same time, 43% of men feel engaged in their jobs. In comparison, 38% are disengaged in the workplace, with 21% being actively disengaged. 

On the other side, men report disengagement at 38% as well, with 19% of them being entirely and actively disengaged.

25. 74% of women are more likely to be employed in informal and lower-paying jobs in sub-Saharan Africa compared to 61% of men.

(Quartz Africa)

Men vs Women in the workforce statistics in Africa generally show that women are more involved in the informal economy than men. 

This leaves women exposed to many difficulties such as exploitation, extreme poverty, and almost no job security. Another complication is that most policy support programs on the continent that are supposed to help and assist people tend to exclude women.

26. Women hold 38% of managerial positions.

(LeanIn & McKinsey)

Conversely, 62% of all management positions were occupied by men in 2020—just one of many statistics highlighting gender inequality in the workplace.

The racial disparity is even more apparent, with Caucasian women holding 26% of all management jobs, compared to 12% of positions occupied by women of color.

27. 50% of women in senior positions stand up for gender equality in the workforce.

(LeanIn & McKinsey)

Only 40% of men in higher positions do the same. Women are also more likely to mentor other women in the workplace—38% of surveyed women are mentoring a female colleague, compared to 23% of men. 

28. Per the latest available statistics in 2021, 50% of female engineers experienced gender discrimination in the workplace.

(Pew Social Trends)

For comparison, only 19% of men say they ever felt discriminated against because of their gender. 

Aside from feeling discriminated, women also report it’s harder for them to succeed in STEM industries because of their gender.

29. 73% of women in the military reported inappropriate comments from their fellow service members.

(The Conversation)

Gender discrimination in the military is one of the most pressing issues servicewomen face, according to statistics. 

Apart from encountering sexualized comments, 20% of military women reported being inappropriately touched, 8% were sexually assaulted, with 3% surviving rape.

30. Women get paid more in only 34 jobs listed in the census data.

(Business Insider)

There are a total of 550 jobs listed, making it only close to 6.2% of work arrangements where women earn more than men. 

Some jobs where women make more than men are as skincare specialists (290% higher income than their male counterparts), brickmasons, block masons, and stonemasons (190.5%), and school bus monitors (148%).

Women in the Workforce Statistics—The Takeaway

The struggle for economic equality across the spectrums of gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orrientiation is an ongoing one. Recent rigures and facts show that women have successfully closed the gap between themselves and men—however, when we analyze it further, we see that it’s mostly white women getting more recognition and opportunities, with women of color getting left behind.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Nationally, four out of ten women’s jobs are in one of the following industries: healthcare, leisure, non-governmental education. One of the lowest job participation rates for women is in the construction industry, where statistics show that only 1.3% of working women are employed. Figures in manufacturing, as well as transportation and communication industries are on the lower side as well—6.6% and 3%, respectively.

According to the latest data available, just under half of the entire female population (47%) was employed. There is, however, an enormous disparity between the number of men and women who participate in the labor force—27% more men hold jobs.

About 72% of mothers are in some sort of working arrangement, whether it be full-time or part-time.

When it comes to full-time employment, 55% of mothers work in these conditions today, compared to only 34% fifty years ago.

A report from 2019 shows that there were 74.08 million working women in the US at that moment. For comparison, 53.69 million women held jobs in the country just 30 years ago, in 1990. 

The survey was limited to the age group of 16+. However, it includes both part-time and full-time employment data from 1990 until 2019. 

An average salary for women in the US is $68,193 in 2021. This translates to roughly $33 an hour and or $5,683 per month. The report shows earnings as high as $154,000 per year, but the income goes as low as $16,500.

Top 10% of highest-earning women have an average income of $131,000, according to women in the workforce statistics.

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