Dot’s Reading Room: Women’s History Month

March 8, 2024

March is Women’s History Month and once again we’re dipping into the Census Bureau for a treasure trove of facts and figures about the advances U.S women have made since March 8, 1857 when hundreds of women from New York City garment and textile factories rallied to protest harsh working conditions. 

In 1909, New York City became the site of the nation’s first Women’s Day celebration, a year after 15,000 women there marched to demand shorter working hours, better pay, an end to child labor, and the right to vote.

Fast forward to 1981 when Congress set aside the second week of March as National Women’s History Week. Six years later, Congress expanded the week to a month .

Here are some neat “Did you Know?” facts about women: (all statistics are from 2022)

  • As of July 1, 2022, women outnumbered men by 3 million – 168 million women to 165 million men.
  • Women are living longer than men – There were about 1.9 million more females, age 85 and older (4.2 million), than males (2.3 million) in the United States as of July 1, 2022.
  • In educational achievement, women, age 25 and older, outnumbered men in the number of bachelor’s degrees earned: – 36.8 percent compared with 34.5 percent of men
  • 80.3 million females, age 16 and older, participated in the civilian labor force in 2022. This comprises 58.6 percent of females, age 16 and older.

But, lest you think these statistics are entirely too one-sided, here is the kicker:

  • 82.2 percent – the percentage of full- time, year round female workers over age 16 median earnings compared to men’s earnings in 2022.

And following the “pay-gap” thread, there’s another key date coming up:

March 12 is Equal Pay Day. This date symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. Equal Pay Day was originated by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men’s and women’s wages. 

“Because women earn less, on average, than men, they must work longer for the same amount of pay. The wage gap is even greater for most women of color.”

In 1973, full-time working women earned a median of 56.6 cents to every dollar men earned. In 2022 (49 years later), women earned 84.0, a gain of 27.4 cents.

There’s a handy “Gender Pay Gap” map of the U.S. posted on the Census Bureau site that shows the disparity in women’s and men’s earnings.  If you click on MA, you will see male earnings at $70,617; female, $57,400, and the wage gap at $13, 217.  If  you hover over the MA map, there is detailed information about the state’s selected largest occupation, percentage of workforce it comprises, male and female median earnings, and the wage gap for the selected top occupation. Here’s is the link:

If you delight in numbers, a trip to the Census Bureau provides hours of happy browsing.  Today our focus is on women but there is no end to the subjects you can explore and I’ll warn you, it can be addictive. Almost like starting a genealogy exploration where one fact leads to another and another and another.

Happy reading.

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