Chamber Business News: Educated women comprise half of workforce for first time

Chamber Business News, September 10, 2019: Educated women comprise half of workforce for first time 

For decades, women have commanded the majority of the enrolled undergraduate population. At the turn of the century, roughly 57% of enrolled undergraduates were women; as of 2017, this proportion is almost exactly the same.

However, until recently, this educational majority hasn’t translated into a workforce majority. Since 2013, the portion of college-educated women in the workforce has hovered around 49%.

Last month, that changed; for the first time in history, women comprise more than half of the college-educated workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last month, the bureau counted 29.234 million educated women, compared to 29.069 million men; and although the difference may seem marginal, this is a crucial milestone for the female workforce.

“To the extent that women’s earning power would be on par with men, it’s going to lift a lot of women – in particular, single parent households or single mothers – lift them out of poverty,” said Karrin Taylor Robson, secretary of the Arizona Board of Regents. “There’s billions of dollars in pay disparity, and more often than not, in single parent households, they’re led by women. So, when women have a pay disadvantage, that necessarily translates into their household income, given their additional responsibilities for raising kids, which has disproportionately been borne by women in single-parent households.”

According to the Census Bureau, women-led households comprised roughly 26% of all households in 1980; 38 years later, this figure has jumped to 30.5%. Yet even with the added responsibilities that come with leading a household, women have noticeably less earning power than men.


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