Knowledge Center

Women In The Workforce: United States


Women Are More than Half the United States Population

In 2014, there were 161,966,955 women, representing 50.8% of the 318,857,056 people in the United States.1

The Overall United States Population Is Aging

By 2060, the number of people 65 and older is expected to more than double.2

  • Projections cite an increase from 46 million people in 2015 to more than 98 million.3 

People 65 and older are projected to become almost a quarter (24%) of the population by 2060.4

  • Compared to 15% in 2014 and 9% in 1960.5
The Total Fertility Rate Is Below Replacement Level6

The total fertility rate in 2015 was 1.9 births per woman.7

  • This is compared to a post-World War II “Baby Boom” peak of 3.7 births per woman in the late 1950s and 2.1 births per woman before the recession in 2007.8
The Nation Is Becoming More Diverse 

By 2044, the United States is projected to become a "majority-minority" nation in which non-Hispanic whites will constitute less than 50% of the total population.9

Many States Are Majority-Minority or Approaching the Threshold

California, Texas, Hawaii, and New Mexico already have more than 50% "minority" populations.10

  • In Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, and New York, people of color make up 40% or more of the population.11

Between 2012 and 2060, the number of people who identify as two or more races is projected to grow from 7.5 million people to 26.7 million.12

Diversity Is Especially Concentrated in Younger Age Groups 

In 2014, almost half of the people under age 20 were members of a minority group.13

  • 48% of the youngest group were minorities, compared to 23% of people 60 and older.14 

44.2% of Millennials—those born between 1982 and 2000—are part of a minority race or ethnic group.15 



Women Earn More Degrees Than Men

For the class 2013-2014, women earned more than half of bachelor's degrees (57.1%), master’s degrees (59.9%), and doctorate degrees (51.8%).16

For the class of 2013–2014, women earned almost half (49.1%) of all professional degrees, including:17

  • 47.6% of degrees in medicine
  • 61.0% of degrees in pharmacy
  • 47.5% of degrees in dentistry
  • 79.0% of degrees in veterinary medicine
  • 46.8% of degrees in law

And They Have Earned More Degrees Than Men for Some Time

Women have earned more bachelor's degrees than men since 1982.18

Women have earned more master's degrees than men since 1987.19

Women have earned more doctorate degrees than men since 2006.20


Labor Force

Women Are Nearly Half the Labor Force 

In 2015, there were 73,510,000 women aged 16 and over in the labor force, representing 46.8% of the total labor force.21

The majority of women are either working or looking for work.22

  • 56.7% of women participate in the labor force, compared to 69.1% of men.23



More Than Half of Management Occupations Are Held by Women 

In 2015, women held 51.5% of all management, professional, and related occupations and 43.6% of the subcategory management, business, and financial operations occupations.24 

In S&P 500 Companies, Women Are Less Represented the Higher Up They Go25

Corporate Boards

The Overwhelming  Majority of New Directorships Continue to Go to Men26

Men held 80.1% of S&P 500 board seats, while women held 19.9%.27

Men held 73.1% of S&P 500 new directorships, while women held 26.9%.28

2.8% of S&P 500 companies had zero women directors, 24.6% had one woman, and only 14.2% of companies had 30% or more women on their boards.29


Additional Resources

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Women in the Labor Force: A Databook (December 2015).

Catalyst, Quick Take: Women’s Earnings and Income.

Catalyst, Quick Take: Women of Color in the United States.

Catalyst, Quick Take: Working Parents.

Gretchen Livingston, "Is U.S. Fertility at an All-Time Low? It Depends," Pew Research Center Fact Tank, February 24, 2015. 

Institute for Women's Policy Research, "The Status of Women and Girls." 

Pew Research Center, Women and Leadership: Public Says Women are Equally Qualified, But Barriers Persist (January 14, 2015).

US Census Bureau, "Women’s History Month: March 2016." 

Judith Warner, The Women’s Leadership Gap (Center for American Progress, August 4, 2015).  


How to cite this product: Catalyst. Quick Take: Women in the Workforce: United States. New York: Catalyst, August 11, 2016.