A post from Babble Senior Editor Mira Jacobs:
Kicking off Women’s History Month, the White House today released the first really comprehensive report on the status of American women since 1963, detailing how we’re faring in terms of family, employment, education, health, and crime. While none of the information released was out-and-out shocking (and most has been published previously in separate reports), when taken as a whole, Women in America paints the picture of a rapidly changing social and economic landscape.
The most “surprising” thing you already knew? Women are having their first kid later in life. In fact, a whopping 24 percent of women today are having their first child at age 30 or older — that’s six times as many as were doing so in the 1970s. While it would be easy enough to argue that we’re just following men down the rabbit hole of “old new parenthood,” Acting Deputy Secretary at the Department of Commerce Becky Blank pointed to a few other factors.
“Women are staying in school longer, and working longer before they have children,” she explained, going on to note that women have finally caught up to men in terms of college attendance and that in particular, younger women are now more likely than younger men to have a college or a master’s degree. In addition, the amount of women and men in the labor force has nearly equalized in recent years, which means that women’s earnings are making up a larger portion of the family income. The bad news? Despite all that catching up, women are still earning about 75 percent of what their male counterparts earn. Because more women than men are also the sole means of support for their families, women are more likely to live in poverty than men.
While that news is particularly bleak (and linked to women’s shying away from the higher earning science fields), White House officials are quick to point out the upside of knowing the worst. “Policy decisions should be based on evidence,” said Preeta Bansal General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor Office of Management and Budget Executive Office of the President. In other words, you can’t fix the problem until you know it exists. So now that they know, what will the Administration do to improve the lives of American women? I’m not sure, but I’m ready for a few good surprises.