Gender Equality in the United States of America

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Flag of United_States
Population (in Mil.) 314.11
Gross Domestic Product (In USD Billions - WB) 16,163.16
Sex Ratio (m/f) 0.97
Life Expectancy Ratio (f/m) 1.065789474
Fertility Rate 2.06
Estimated Earned Income (f/m) 0.96
Tertiary Enrolment Ratio (f/m) 94.8
Women in Parliament (in %) 17.8
Human Development Index 3/187
Social Institutions and Gender Index /86
Gender Inequality Index 3/186
Gender Equity Index 50/168
Women’s Economic Opportunity Index 14/128
Global Gender Gap Index 23/68
More information on variables

In the News


The United States was ranked 31st in the 2009 Global Gender Gap Report published by the World Economic Forum.[1] This places the United States far below most European and industrialized countries. The pay gap between men and women is considerable and higher than the OECD average and political participation of women at higher levels of government remains low, despite the important increases of female heads of department under the current administration Commitment to gender equality is evident, however, through legislation passed in the 60s and 70s protecting women's rights, and there remains great activism amongst women's organizations to improve the rights and opportunities for women of all ethnic and racial backgrounds.

Social Institutions

The Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) measures gender-based discrimination in social norms, practices and laws across 160 countries. The SIGI comprises country profiles, a classification of countries and a database; it serves as a research, policy and advocacy tool for the development community and policy makers.

The SIGI covers five dimensions of discriminatory social institutions, spanning major socio-economic areas that affect women’s lives: discriminatory family code, restricted physical integrity, son bias, restricted resources and assets, and restricted civil liberties. The SIGI’s variables quantify discriminatory social institutions such as unequal inheritance rights, early marriage, violence against women, and unequal land and property rights.

In the 2014 edition of the SIGI, United States was not classified in the SIGI due to lack of full dataset. It has lower discrimination in restricted access to resources and assets and higher discrimination in restricted civil liberties. Read the full country profile and access the data here:


The United States has never ratified CEDAW. Opponents of ratification have argued that ratification would relinquish too much power to the international community as treaty provisions would supercede United States law and would force the US to legalize prostitution;Citation needed ] since 2002, however, the Bush administration stated that ratification would be desirable and has received support from relevant government committees. The United States has enacted the following legislation to address issues of gender discrimination: the 1963 federal Equal Pay Act, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the passage of Title VII and IX of the Education Amendments in the early 1970s.


At 21.6%, the pay gap between men and women in the United States is high, and higher than the OECD average. Women are relatively well-represented in the labor market, with a female participation rate of 65.6%.  According to the US Census Bureau, 1.1 million women work in educational services, health care and social assistance industries. About 37 % of women work in management, professional and related occupations. Of these, 37 percent worked in management, professional and related occupations. The median annual earnings of women 16 or older who worked year-round, full time, in 2005 was $32,168. The median income in 2000 for females with a high school diploma was $21,963, compared to $30,868 for males with a high school diploma. Females with bachelor's degrees earned $35,408 in 2000, compared with $49,982 for males.[2]


A 2000 U.S. Census Bureau report shows that women have almost achieved parity in education. In 1999, the same percentage of men and women in the U.S. graduated from high school. The percentage of women who completed a bachelor's degree was 23.7 percent, compared with 27.5 percent of men. There appears to be an upward trend for women in tertiary education: in 1970 the number of women who attained a bachelor's degree was 8.2 percent of the population, compared with 14.2 percent of men. By 1980, the percentage of women had risen to 13.6 percent compared to 20.9 percent of men.[3]

Political empowerment

Women in New Jersey received the right to vote as early as 1790, but this was overturned by 1807. All women received the right to vote in 1920 with the enactment of the 19th Amendment of the Constitution, "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."[4]

Women’s votes were a significant factor in President Barack Obama’s victory, with a sizable gender gap evident in the election results, according to an analysis of exit poll data by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. White women voted 56 % for Obama, 43 % for McCain.[5] In the 2009 Congress, women held 90, or 16.8%, of the 535 seats; 17, or 17.0%, of the 100 seats in the Senate and 73, or 16.8%, of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives.[6] Key female appointments made by President Obama were: Hillary Rodham Clinton as Secretary of State.

See also

Women's organizations in the US:


  1. World Economic Forum. (2009). 2009 Report. Retrieved August 7, 2010, from World Economic Forum:
  2. (2008, March 25). US Women Making Strides in Education, Entrepreneurship. Retrieved August 5, 2010, from
  3. Gaddis, R. (2007, August 14). Gender Equality in the United States. Retrieved August 5, 2010, from Associated Content:
  4. The National Archives. (2010). The Constitution of the United States: Amendments 11-27. Retrieved August 8, 2010, from The National Archives:
  5. Center for American Women and Politics. (2008). Fast Facts Women Voters. Retrieved August 8, 2010, from Center for American Women and Politics:
  6. Manning, J. E. (2010, May 27). Membership of the 111th Congress: A Profile. Retrieved August 8, 2010, from

Other Sources

  • OECD, Babies and Bosses: Key Outcomes of the Untied States of America compared to the OECD average (2007), [1]

The Women, Business and the Law

Where are laws equal for men and women? 

The Women, Business and the Law report presents indicators based on laws and regulations affecting women's prospects as entrepreneurs and employees. Several of these indicators draw on the Gender Law Library, a collection of over 2,000 legal provisions impacting women's economic status. This report does not seek to judge or rank countries, but to provide information to inform discussions about women’s economic rights. Women, Business and the Law provides data covering 6 areas: accessing institutions,using property, getting a job, providing incentives to work, building credit, and going to court.Read more about the methodology.

For detailed information on United States, please visit the Women, Business and
the Law United States


External Links

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