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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
August 1994 US Report to UN on Status of Women 1985-1994
GLOBAL CONFERENCE SECRETARIAT
[Section 2 of 5]
WHO ARE THE WOMEN OF THE U.S.
FACTFINDER FOR THE NATION
The Census Bureau of the U.S. Department of Commerce provides baseline
data for measuring the status of women and for designing policy,
legislation, and programs that advance the status of women. Through its
support to the State Department and the Agency for International
Development, Census also promotes international programs that advance
the status of women worldwide.
A national population and housing census is conducted every 10 years.
Almost all population census and surveys in the U.S. distinguish gender
as a matter of course. Other surveys and analyses address issues
related to women directly, or indirectly by focusing on family or
children. The collected data on women, as members of households and
individuals, appear in such reports as: Housing Characteristics of One
Parent Households 1989, Who's Minding the Kids: Child Care Arrangements
(Fall 1988), and We the American Women (Fall 1993).
The 1990 census* found historic changes in the characteristics and
status of American women:
-- They are more diverse racially and ethnically.
-- A greater share are middle-aged and elderly.
-- More live in households without children than with them.
-- More women than ever before have a college education.
-- Women have become a majority of professional workers.
-- Approximately one-half of mothers of young children also work
outside the home.
* Much of this information is based on the 1990 Census of Population and
Housing. Estimated population and housing unit totals based on
tabulations from only the sample tabulations may differ from the
official 100-percent counts. Such differences result, in part, from
collecting data from a sample of households rather than all households.
Differences also can occur because of the interview situation and the
processing rules differing between the 100-percent and sample
tabulations. These types of differences are referred to as non-sampling
errors. For additional information, please contact: Age and Sec
Statistics Branch, Population Division, Bureau of the Census,
Washington, DC 20233.
Some of these changes spell an improvement for American women in general
and for many individual women, including women from minority racial and
ethnic groups.** But many women did not share in these improvements.
These women are disproportionately women of color, although the majority
of disadvantaged women are non-Hispanic white.
-- Women are three-fifths of all poor adults, and one in eight women
-- Nearly three-fourths of the nation's elderly poor are women.
-- Single mothers head the nation's poorest households.
-- More women are high school dropouts than are college graduates.
-- Nearly half of employed women are in lower-paying administrative
support and service jobs.
-- Almost 4 million women are isolated due in part to the fact that
they do not speak English fluently, and the fact that they live in
households where no one over age 13 speaks English fluently.
-- One in four elderly women are disabled.
** Much of the introductory narrative on Census data presented here was
prepared by the Population Reference Bureau with the support of the Ford
Foundation. Their complete analysis can be found in the What the 1990
Census Tells Us About Women: A State Factbook. It is abridged here
with PRB's permission.
American women have experienced dramatic changes over the last decade.
In 1990, there were 127,192,669 women in the U.S. -- about 11 million
more than a decade earlier. Overall, women outnumber men by 6 million.
Women are increasingly delaying marriage and childbirth. More are in
the labor force than ever before and are likely to have continuous
lifetime work experience. Chances are greater than 99 out of 100 that
women will work in the paid labor force at some time in their lives.
There has been a remarkable increase in the proportion of mothers who
work. This is partly a result of non-economic factors such as changes
in the attitudes of society toward working mothers and the desires of
women themselves, as well as economic factors such as inflation,
recession, falling wages, divorce, and unemployment of husbands.
Most women meet the usual demands of housework and family care in
addition to the work in the labor force. The responsibilities of work
and home life have changed little for most married men, while for most
wives, home responsibilities follow traditional patterns despite the
profound change in their lives outside their families. Women have been
spending more years prior to marriage supporting themselves; in
marriage, women have been contributing more to the household income;
and, a greater number of women have been rearing children alone, often
with little or no financial help.
American women have made evident advancements: vigorous aging,
opportunities to work in non-traditional jobs, widespread participation
in higher education, and a broader array of lifestyle choices. However,
many women still do not look forward to a secure old age; others do not
have the resources to take advantage of new opportunities, whether in
education or employment; still others suffer in lifestyles they didn't
choose but had to accept. Women of color are significantly behind other
women on almost every dimension of advancement. Much remains to be done
to give every woman the opportunity to make a better life.
Women are aging: Women as a category are "older" today than they were
in 1980. Their median age increased from 31 years in 1980 to 34 in
1990. During the 1980s, the number of teenagers and young adults
declined, while the number of middle-aged and older women grew rapidly.
Slightly more males than females are born each year, and during
childhood, there are more males than females. Men are more likely than
women to immigrate, and the 1980s saw major immigration flows into the
U.S., so the population of younger and middle-aged men grew more than
the population of women this age. However, women continue to live
longer than men, so the population of older women grew faster than the
population of older men.
Women are older than men: Although women account for 51% of the total
population, they become a steadily increasing majority after age 25.
Women make up 55% of people aged 45 and older, 60% of those aged 65 and
older, and 72% of persons aged 85 and older.
Although the median age of women is 34 years, it is over age 35 in
twelve states, and under 30 in two others. As the U.S. approaches the
next century, some states will have to pay relatively more attention to
the problems of elderly women; others, to the education of school-age
girls, still others, to the concerns of working women.
NOT ALL NATIVE-AMERICAN POPULATION GROWTH
Paula Gunn Allen, in an article "Sky Woman and Her Sisters" excerpted
from her book The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American
Indian Tradition", chronicles: "Not until recently have American Indian
women chosen to define themselves politically as Indian women -- a
category that retains their basic racial and cultural identity but
distinguishes women as a separate political force in a tribal, racial,
and cultural context. This self-redefinition among Indian women who
intend that their former stature be restored has resulted from several
political factors. The status of tribal women has seriously declined
over the centuries of white dominance, as they have been all but
voiceless in tribal decision-making bodies since reconstitution of the
tribes through colonial fiat and U.S. law. But...the breakdown in
(native) women's status led to their migration in large numbers into the
cities, where they regained the self-sufficiency and positions of
influence they had held in earlier centuries." Election of tribal women
to the leadership of urban Indian centers has occurred in at least 25%
of the federally recognized tribes.
Women are more diverse racially and ethnically: Nearly one in four
women is a member of a minority group. These 30.7 million women of
color are themselves more diverse than ever. Just over one million are
American Indian. About half are African American, one-third are
Hispanic, and one-eighth are Asian American. Overall, the number of
minority women grew 29% in the 1980s, compared with 4% for non-Hispanic
white women. Two factors account for this difference -- immigration
from Asia and Latin America and higher fertility among women of color.
The gradual transformation of the U.S. into an increasingly multiracial
society has major implications for efforts geared toward women. While
barely 10% of today's older women are minorities, even programs for the
elderly will need to become multicultural because tomorrow's older women
will be more racially diverse.
More women are foreign-born: Increased immigration in recent years
accounts for much of this new diversity. The 1980s saw the largest
number of immigrants in the country's history. The 1990 census found
10.1 million girls and women who were born outside the United States,
comprising 8% of the total female population. During the 1970s and
1980s, the vast majority of immigrants to the U.S. came from Latin
America and Asia.
Two-thirds of Asian American and one-third of Hispanic women are
foreign-born, compared with just 4% of non-Hispanic white and African
American women. These shares are even higher among working-age women.
Nearly half of Hispanic women aged 18 to 64 are immigrants, as are four
in five Asian American women.
Although the U.S. has been experiencing high levels of immigration, the
effects are uneven among states. The number of foreign-born women
increased by one-fourth overall during the 1980s, but declined in 29
states. In five states, at least one in eight women was born outside
the U.S. Although slightly more than two-fifths of all foreign-born
women in the U.S. are naturalized citizens, they make up the majority of
the foreign-born in 25 states.
One of the consequences of the increase in the number of foreign-born
women is an increase in the number of women without a fundamental
knowledge of English. One in seven women over age 4 speak a language
other than English at home. Spanish is the first language for a
majority of these women. Almost four million (3% of all U.S. women)
live in linguistic isolation in households where no one over age 13
speaks English fluently.
Women live increasingly in metropolitan areas: Nearly 80% of U.S. women
now live in metropolitan areas. Their number grew 33% during the 1980s.
By contrast, the number of women in non-metropolitan areas declined 18%.
This decrease effectively ended the urban flight of the 1970s and
resumed the decades-long trend toward increasing urbanization. Suburbs,
not cities, have received most of this gain, however. Women of working
age (18 to 64) are slightly more likely than average to live in
metropolitan areas; three out of four elderly women live in such areas.
Women are having children later in life: In 1990, there were 4,158,212
babies born in the U.S. This number was the highest reported since 1962
(4,167,362), near the end of the Baby Boom --i.e., the expanded
birthrate of the post World War II years. Between 1980 and 1990, women
20 to 24 years old experienced the smallest increase in fertility rates.
In 1990, the fertility rate for women 30 to 34 years old was the highest
it has been in the past two decades (81 per 1,000 women). During the
past decade, fertility rates for women age 35-39 have increased more
than any other age group. Their fertility rate was the highest it has
been since 1970. Birthrates for adolescents age 15 to 17 were up a
Most women do become mothers. In 1990, seven out of ten women aged 15
and older had given birth to at least one child. The majority of these
women have had at least two children. Even so, the share of childless
women has risen among those of the baby-boom generation.
Many women are heads of households: The proportion of families
maintained by women has increased steadily since 1970. Although the
increases in the 1980s were at a slower rate, such families now comprise
one in 9 households. The proportion of families maintained by women is
higher for African Americans than for any other group. Between 1970 and
1990, African Americans had the greatest increase in the proportion of
families maintained by women. In 1990, the racial groups with the
smallest proportion of families maintained by women were whites (13%)
and Asian and Pacific Islanders (12%). The proportion of families
maintained by Hispanic women increased from 15% in 1970 to 22% in 1990.
One in six never-married women have given birth. This also varies by
race, however. While fewer than one in ten never-married white or Asian
women have had a child, one in four such Hispanic women, one in three
such American Indian women, and nearly half of such African American
women have done so.
Although most adult women (51.3 million) live in married-couple
families, the 1990 census found, for the first time in recent history,
the majority of these families did not include children under age 18 at
home. These are either young marrieds just starting out or, more often,
"empty-nesters" whose children have grown. Such families comprise three
in ten households. An increasing number of women live outside what has
been considered the typical American household -- a married couple with
children. In 1990, there were fewer such families than there were in
1980. An unprecedented 13.5 million women (roughly one in seven) lived
alone in 1990. Older women are much more likely than older men to live
alone. Forty two percent of all women 65 and older lived alone in 1992
compared to 16 percent of men that age.
Some of the greater variety of women's households results from
demographic trends, particularly the increase in women's life
expectancy. Living a longer life makes each woman increasingly likely
to spend time in a range of household types, such as on her own before
or after marriage, or living with a spouse long after the children have
grown. Others result from social changes. Women are getting married
later, the divorce rate remains high, and more women are having children
without being married. Vast numbers of women complete schooling or
participate in continuing or adult education and training to enter or
remain in the workforce. Still other economic changes affect whether or
not a woman and her family can live independently.
Racial and ethnic origins make a considerable difference in subfamilies
(families not living independently, but in someone else's household).
Mother-child subfamilies are particularly prevalent among American
Indians and African Americans; three in four African American
subfamilies, for example, are female-headed. Mother-child subfamilies
are a majority in every racial/ethnic group except Asian Americans,
where only one of four subfamilies are female-headed.
In keeping with a tradition of multi-generational families, nearly two-
thirds of Asian American subfamilies are married couples living with
another family member. Overall, nearly one quarter of subfamilies
consist of married couples, the majority of whom have no children under
age 18. Many are young couples starting out by living with a parent.
A smaller share of American women were married in 1990 than in 1980:
Most women ultimately marry, although demographers estimate that a
higher proportion of today's younger women will remain single throughout
their lives. Later marriage, more divorces, and greater life expectancy
mean that an increasing share of adult women are not currently married,
and that women are spending more of their lives unmarried.
Except for African Americans, married women are still a majority of all
women -- the number of African American women who have never been
married nearly equaled the number of currently married African American
women. Among all racial and ethnic groups, the number of single women
grew faster in the 1980s than the number of married women did.
The most dramatic increase in the proportion of never-married women
occurred among women in their late twenties and early thirties: In
1970, 11% of women 25 to 29 years old and only 6% of women 30 to 34
years old had not married. By 1990, the proportion nearly tripled to
31% for women in their late twenties and 16% for women in their early
Increasing proportions are divorced: In 1970, 4% of women (3% of men)
reported their marital status as divorced. The population of currently
divorced women increased by a staggering 44% since 1980. The divorce
rate peaked at a historically high level in the early 1980s; it has
declined only slightly since then. By 1990, 9% of women and 7% of men
This trend has had its largest impact among women aged 35 to 64. The
number of currently divorced women in this age group grew 73% between
1980 and 1990. In 1990, divorced women made up 14% of women aged 35 to
64, up from 10% in 1980. By 1992, 6% of women over 65 were divorced.
In 1990, 12.1 million women reported that they were widows -- an
increase of 9% from 1980. Widows comprise an increasingly significant
portion of all women age 55 and older. Between ages 55 and 64, one in
six women are widows, as are one in three women aged 65 to 74, three in
five aged 75 to 84, and four in five aged 85 and older. Both
differential longevity and the fact that most women marry men older than
themselves account for the large share of widowed elderly women. These
trends suggest that more elderly women will be alone in old age, and
more will enter their later years without a spouse. As the baby boom
generation ages, a larger share of older women may also lack adult
children who can help them out, since baby boom women had smaller
families and many remained childless.
The American Association of Retired Persons reports that widowed women,
aged 45 to 61, fare worse financially than divorced women: 24 percent
of widowed women were poor in 1992 compared to 17 percent of divorced
women. Among women over 61, the reverse is true: divorced women fare
worse than widows.
SOURCES for WHO ARE THE WOMEN OF THE U.S.
American Association of Retired Persons
Population Reference Bureau
"What the 1990 Census Tells Us About Women:A State Factbook"
Paula Gunn Allen, "Sky Woman and Her Sisters,"
Ms. Magazine, September - October, 1992
U.S. Census Bureau, Department of Commerce
U.S. Department of the Interior
Women's Research and Education Institute
WOMEN IN ELECTIVE OFFICE
There has been a steady increase in the number of women in elective
office over the past twenty years, with a special boost in 1992 for
women entering the U.S. Congress. Nevertheless, as of 1994, women still
do not hold more than about one-fifth of the available positions at any
level of elective office.
FEDERAL: At the federal level, as of January 1994, women held 10.1% of
the 535 seats in Congress -- 7 of 100 seats in the U.S. Senate and 47
(10.8%) of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives. In addition,
one woman serves as delegate to the House from the District of Columbia.
This is more than double the number in 1986, when 2 women served in the
Senate and 23 in the House.
STATE: In July 1994 at the state level, women held 71 out of 324
elective offices in the executive branch, a total of 21.9%. As of the
1993 elections, a record four women govern states -- Kansas, Oregon,
Texas and New Jersey.
Eleven women serve as lieutenant governors, eight are attorneys general,
10 hold elective secretary of state positions, 16 are state treasurers.
Other elective offices held by women in various states include auditor,
comptroller, chief education official, commissioners of labor,
agriculture, insurance, public utilities and public service.
In July 1994, there were 1,529 women holding seats in state
legislatures, or 20.6% of the total 7,424 seats. In 1975, there were
8%; in 1981, 12.1%; and in 1985, 14.8%.
TRIBAL: There are 547 federally recognized American Indian tribes,
located in 33 states. At present, approximately 20% of all elected
tribal Chairpersons, Governors, Presidents or Principal Chiefs of
American Indian tribal governments are women. In addition to the
increase of Indian or Native women filling elected chief executive
positions, they are increasingly filling elected legislative positions
in tribal councils and now hold about 1,100 seats nationwide.
County governing boards -- In 1988, in the 47 states which have county
governing boards, women held 1,653, or 8.9%, of the 18,483 seats across
the country. The number tripled from 1975 to 1988, from 456 to 1,653.
Mayors and city council members -- Of the 100 largest cities in the
United States, 18 had women mayors as of January 1994. The number of
women mayors has more than doubled since 1985. There were, as of
January 1994, 174 women mayors of cities with populations over 30,000,
or 17.9% of 971 such cities. In 1975 there were 35; in 1981, 72; in
1985, 80. In April 1993, of the 23,729 mayors and city council members,
across the nation in cities with populations over ten thousand, 4,657
were women (19.6%). In 1985, 14.3% of all mayors and municipal council
members were women; in 1975, only 4% were women.
Based on its surveys and analysis the Feminist Majority Foundation has
predicted that despite steady progress, at the current rate of increase,
women will reach parity with men in the U.S. Congress in about 339
years, or 2333. Prospects are better at the state and local levels:
state legislature, 2038; statewide elective office, 2065; county
governing boards, 2069; mayors and municipal governing boards, 2021.
LEGAL RIGHTS TO OFFICE; ROLE OF INDIVIDUAL WOMEN AND ORGANIZATIONS AS
POLICY MOTIVATORS, INNOVATORS, AND FUNDERS
While there are no legal barriers to women running for elective office
in the U.S., social custom, tradition, the power of incumbents, and lack
of adequate financial resources have slowed women's progress towards
In the past, non-governmental organizations, such as the League of Women
Voters, American Association of University Women, the Young Women's
Christian Association (YWCA), the National Council of Black Women, the
National Federation of Business and Professional Women, and, more
recently, the National Organization for Women, have served as training
grounds for women -- in politics, leadership development, and as a base
of encouragement and support. Many of those in office were themselves
members and credit their experience as providing them with political
In 1971, some of the founders of the contemporary American women's
movement created a special national grassroots organization, the
National Women's Political Caucus, to recruit, train and support women
for elected and appointed office across party lines. Through campaign
training sessions and by providing local volunteers to run campaigns,
the Caucus helps women develop more sophisticated campaigns. The
successful candidates for local school boards, city councils and state
legislatures become the pool of talent for higher office.
In 1974, the Women's Campaign Fund was organized as a bi-partisan
political action committee (PAC) to provide money for women candidates
in compliance with campaign finance laws. It also provides research and
training. By 1984, there were nearly 20 such groups in the country;
there are 48 today, 11 national and 37 at the state level.
A new and important financial factor was added in 1985 with the founding
of EMILY's List -- (Early Money Is Like Yeast) -- which has used an
innovative marketing approach to encourage thousands of women to write
checks for Democratic women candidates for federal and high state
office. Like NWPC and WCF, EMILY's List supports pro-choice candidates,
that is those who support access to legal abortion.
A similar organization, WISH List -- (Women in the Senate and House) --
was formed in 1991 to benefit pro-choice Republican women candidates.
Both of these groups do an extensive analysis of candidate
qualifications and the effectiveness of their campaigns. This
information is provided to members who then channel donations through
the organization to candidates they choose to support.
Contributions sent through EMILY's List rose from $650,000 in 1988 to
$6.2 million in 1992. The average donation was under $100--the minimum
requirement for membership. WISH List raised $250,000 in its first
year. Record sums were also contributed to candidates in 1992 by NWPC
All four groups provide greater strategic assistance to campaigns,
including technical assistance on planning, fundraising, media and
message development. This is a great advance, compared to earlier
years. However the challenge remains to encourage women to become
candidates at a time when many have very full lives, balancing both work
and family obligations.
Another group, the Hollywood Women's Political Committee emerged as a
powerful political force in the past decade. Founded in 1984, it is
comprised of politically active women from television, film and the arts
who support issues, candidates and legislation that promote peace,
equality, freedom of choice regarding reproduction, and environmental
conservation. Its 200 members have raised over $5 million for women and
men candidates and issues.
WOMEN IN APPOINTIVE OFFICE:
ADVANCEMENT SINCE 1985
Of the 21 members of President Clinton's cabinet, six (29%) are women.
In January, 1994 women headed three of the fourteen executive
departments -- Justice, Energy, and Health and Human Services. In
addition, the President designated the Ambassador to the United Nations,
and the director of the Environmental Protection Agency and chair of the
Council of Economic Advisors to his cabinet -- all women.
During the first year of the Clinton administration, 128 (31.5%) of the
senior-level, Senate confirmed appointees were women, as were 47% of all
presidential appointments. These are record numbers. In all of U.S.
history, only 14 women have headed executive departments. Since 1985 in
addition to those current appointees, five other women have headed
departments, and two have held Cabinet-level appointments. More women
have been appointed to positions in Education, Housing and Urban
Development, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Health and Human
Services. The Departments of State, Veterans Affairs, Energy, Treasury
and Transportation have the least.
Throughout the past ten years and in the previous two national
administrations, women constituted 11.8% (from 1981-1989) and 19.9%
(1989-1992) of senior-level, Senate confirmed positions.
Ada Deer, an American Indian woman with a long and distinguished
community service career, was appointed by President Clinton as the
first woman Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs. She oversees the
Bureau of Indian Affairs with a $2.4 billion budget and a workforce of
11,500 which is 90% American Indian. (Only 64 women are in decision-
making positions in BIA.)
GENDER BALANCE LAWS
Gender balance laws require the appointment of equal numbers of women
and men to state boards and commissions. These positions in turn are
stepping stones for running for public office. Enacted first in Iowa in
1986, 6 states now have gender balance laws. In Iowa, women now
comprise 47.6% of appointments to state boards and commissions.
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ACTIONS AND ACHIEVEMENTS
The Coalition for Women's Appointments is an example of women citizens
taking an active role in governance. First convened, organized and
staffed by the National Women's Political Caucus for the 1976
presidential election, and reactivated for the 1988 and 1992 elections,
the Coalition promotes women for top level policy making positions in
the federal government. During the Bush Administration, the Coalition
helped place 40 women in high level positions by 1989. In all, nearly
45% of President Bush's Senate-confirmed appointments of women were
Coalition nominees. The member organizations -- 70 at the time of the
1992 presidential election -- reflect the diversity of women in their
professional lives, areas of expertise, and ethnic, religious and racial
backgrounds, and this is the diversity the coalition seeks in their
For 1992, eleven bi-partisan task forces were organized by substantive
areas of government. The task forces recruited potential nominees,
reviewing resumes and interviewing the prospects. More than 700 names
were submitted to the Clinton administration through task force efforts.
Many of the women now in office credit the Coalition, at least in part,
for having helped bring about their appointments, including Janet Reno
the first woman ever to serve as Attorney General.
WOMEN EMPLOYED IN FEDERAL AGENCIES
ADVANCEMENT SINCE 1985
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) reports that in 1993, there
were 806,264 women employed in federal government, compared with 707,192
in 1985. While the vast majority of women are clustered in the lower
levels of government service -- making up 72.3% of civil service general
schedule (GS) 1-4 employees, and 71.6% of GS 5-7 employees, their
percentages have increased significantly in the upper levels. There was
a 10% increase in GS 8-12, with 268,446 women constituting 40.1% of
those jobs. Women in GS 13-15 have almost tripled since 1985,
numbering, in 1993, 60,453 (21.2%), and doubled in the Senior Executive
Service ranks, numbering in 1993 1,036 (12.4%).
FEDERAL ACTION -- PROGRAM
Since 1985, increased attention has been given to the dependent care
needs of the Federal workforce with flexible personnel policies to meet
these needs. Guidance on parental leave, issued in 1986, urged Federal
agencies to incorporate work and family concerns.
In 1988 and 1989, the U.S. launched a number of initiatives to foster
broader implementation of work and family programs, including a
memorandum to heads of agencies, administrative guidance, a published
report to the President and Federal officials on dependent care policy,
and a Government-wide conference on dependent care.
In 1992, the U.S. established the Work and Family Program Center which
seeks to increase Federal agency attention to work and family matters
and provides comprehensive assistance in the form of policy guidance,
training, program development, information services, and technical
assistance. As of 1993, there was established at the General Services
Administration an Office of Work-place Initiatives to raise the
visibility of work and family issues within the Federal government.
Other significant U.S. Government measures since 1985 include:
-establishing approximately 700 child care centers at or near federal
worksites -- a result of legislation authorizing Federal agencies to
establish on-site child care centers for use by employees.
-issuing guidance to Federal agencies in 1988 addressing adult dependent
care needs of employees and encouraging heads of agencies to support
these programs. The Interagency Adult Dependent Care Working Group,
established in 1990, gave Federal agencies an opportunity to exchange
ideas, information and resources. Through the Interagency Partnership on
Work and Family established in 1992, certain key Federal agencies share
their experiences and successes in the dependent care area.
-increasing use of flexible personnel programs to help employees balance
work and family needs. In 1985, Congress permanently authorized the use
of flexible and compressed work schedules; in 1990, the President's
Council on Management Improvement initiated a Government-wide Federal
Flexible Workplace Project that allowed employees to work at home. The
primary purpose was to gain experience in using flexible workplace
arrangements and to initiate them as formal practice. Another pilot
program promotes job-sharing as a way to increase part-time employment
opportunities especially benefitting women.
The Study of the Work and Family Needs of the Federal Workforce,
submitted to Congress in April 1992, identifies areas to increase the
use and effectiveness of work and family programs.
The 1992 Survey of Federal Employees, explored perceptions and attitudes
on a variety of issues of particular concern to women and will be used
to help develop policies that more accurately respond to the dynamic
shifts in the workforce.
U.S. WOMEN IN THE INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC SECTOR
Women Ambassadors and in Senior Foreign Service -- As of early 1994, 11%
of the senior ranks of the U.S. Foreign Service were women. Fourteen
women, including three minority women, were already stationed abroad as
ambassadors and another 7 were in the process of being confirmed. Of
those "at post," nine were career officers and five non-career. Four
career and three non-career women awaited confirmation.
Eighteen senior women, including two minorities, were assigned as deputy
chiefs of mission, out of 128 total. Nine out of 32 principal officers
at the State Department were women. Two of the five under-secretaries
were women; the remaining seven have assistant secretary rank. Of 57
deputy assistant secretaries, 15 were women, two of them minorities.
In recent years the State Department's recruitment of women into the
Foreign Service has been 33% or higher; with the result that 27% of
middle grade officers are now women.
U.S. Agency for International Development -- As of March 1994, the
combined USAID workforce of Foreign and Civil Service employees
consisted of 1,429 women (45%), of whom 721 (22.7%) were minority women.
Despite recent progress towards greater diversity, non-minority males
occupied more than 70% of senior and more than 60% of middle management
positions. Women held 56 (19%)% of 295 senior level and 457 (30%) of
1,556 middle level management positions, and of them eight and 117 were
minority women, respectively.
U.S. Information Agency -- In 1994 2,293 (44.6%) of all USIA American
employees were women. Statistics from 1993 show that in USIA's Civil
Service component, 46.8% were women and in the Foreign Service
component, 34.6%. In 1994 30 (16.9%) of the Agency's GS/GM-15 employees
were women, and 5 (16.7%) of career SES employees. Foreign service
equivalents of GS-15 and SES (FO-01/SFS were 32.8% and 16.9% women.
U.S. Peace Corps -- The current Peace Corps director is a woman, a
former Peace Corps Volunteer. In March 1994, of the 6058 Volunteers
serving in 93 countries, 52% were women; 26 women and 59 men were
serving as country directors.
U.S. Women Employed in U.N. Agencies -- The UN Secretariat and
Subsidiary Bodies, the Specialized Agencies and other UN-related bodies
employ a total staff of 69,840, of whom just under 10% are U.S.
citizens. There are 28,096 professional staff positions; women hold
7,507 of them, or about 27%. Women hold about 37% of the 3,851
professional positions staffed by U.S. citizens.
U.S. Women in Other International Organizations -- Inter-American
Organizations employ a total staff of 2,418,of whom 274 are U.S.
citizens. The professional staff of 1,058 includes 288 women. The 175
U.S. citizens among the professional staff include 71 women. Other
regional organizations employ a total staff of 3,233, of whom 255 are
U.S. citizens. The professional staffs of 1,296 include 327 women. The
173 U.S. professionals include 45 women. Other international
organizations employ a total staff of 2,655 of whom 573 staff are U.S,
citizens. Of the 981 professional staff positions, 210 are filled by
women. U.S. citizens hold 329 of the professional positions, including
55 filled by women.
WOMEN AND THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM
FEDERAL: There are 837 seats on the federal judiciary -- nine on the
Supreme Court, 179 on the Circuit Courts and 649 on District Courts. As
of January 1, 1994, there were a total of 101 women federal judges --
two Supreme Court, 24 circuit and 75 district judges. These figures
include eight African-American women and six Hispanic American women.
During 1993, his first year in office, President Clinton sent to
Congress for confirmation 48 judicial nominees -- a group unprecedented
for its diversity: 18 women, 11 African Americans, 3 Hispanic
STATE: As of 1991, of the 356 judges in state courts, 35 (10%) were
women. Of the 858 judges on the intermediate appellate courts, 91 are
women (six of them are African-American). In 1985, the Fund for Modern
Courts reported 23 women judges in state courts, 46 in intermediate
appellate courts. Overall, the number of minority women state judges
increased by 46% from 140 to 204 between 1986 and 1991.
TRIBAL: There are 225 tribal justice systems including tribes served by
courts of Indian offenses, of which 132 Indian women serve as tribal
judges, magistrates and appellate judges. There are no American Indian
judges, male or female, in the federal judicial system.
GENDER BIAS IN THE COURTS
Despite steady increases in the numbers of women lawyers and judges, the
federal and state judiciaries are still overwhelmingly male and white.
The National Association of Women Judges was founded in 1979 to
strengthen the role of women in the judiciary. In 1980 the association
co-sponsored with the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund the creation
of the National Judicial Education Program (to promote equality for
women and men in the courts). This program has been the catalyst for
the national gender bias task force movement and provides technical
assistance to state and federal task forces.
ADVANCEMENTS SINCE 1980
Supreme court and bar association task forces on gender bias in the
courts were developed in the early to mid-eighties and have only begun
reporting their findings and remedial action in the past decade.
Between 1982 and 1993, state chief justices appointed 40 task forces,
helped by a resolution passed at the 1988 joint meeting of the
Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court
Administrators urging the establishment of such task forces. These task
forces, and similar ones on race and ethnic bias, have investigated bias
against women litigants, witnesses, lawyers, jurors, court employees and
The President of the American Bar Association (ABA) for 1995-1996 is a
woman, Roberta Cooper Ramo. Founded in 1878, the ABA had no women
members for 40 years; in 1994, 23% of its 375,000 members were women.
The Women Judges Fund for Justice, established by the National
Association of Women Judges, is a nonprofit educational and research
organization. The Fund's objectives are to provide training to judges
on critical judicial and legal issues, to increase the number of women
judges at all levels, and to minimize gender bias in the judicial system
through special task forces, the development of educational materials
and training of male and female judges in such gender fairness and bio-
ethical issues as spousal support, child custody and visitation, and
As of January 1994, twenty-one states and two Federal circuit courts
have issued their studies on gender and racial bias. Each group found
that bias is a significant problem in the courts. While the severity of
the problems varies from state to state, there is overall uniformity, as
described by the New York Task Force on Women in the Courts, of a
pervasive problem in which "women are often denied equal justice, equal
treatment and equal opportunity."
Some Results of the Studies: Divorce, Child Support and Custody --
Often, after divorce, the standard of living for the woman and children
plunges, while that of the man improves or stays the same. Alimony is
often insufficient in amount and duration, and does not take into
account the role the wife played in enhancing her husband's earning
capacity and career. Also, little consideration is given to the time it
may take for some women to reenter the workforce, and the fact that they
often face the prospects of low-paying jobs. Payment of child support
is often not enforced.
Child Support Enforcement Amendments of 1984 and the Family Support Act
of 1988 require each state to study the problems in its own system and
adopt stringent mechanisms and child support guidelines. Child support
awards have increased as a result and so has enforcement, especially
because of laws providing for automatic wage withholding.
Domestic violence -- Battered women are often presumed to have provoked
the attack and the severity of their treatment is thrown into question
by their failure to leave their attacker.
Rape -- Often the victim continues to be treated as the perpetrator, and
her sexual history or behavior is said to invite the rape. Rape itself
is trivialized if no other physical injuries are sustained.
Acquaintance rape is discounted and not taken seriously.
Juveniles -- Girls are often brought into the court system and harshly
sanctioned for behavior tolerated in boys.
Prostitution -- Women prostitutes are arrested and jailed, while their
male clients rarely are arrested, fined or jailed.
Damages -- Women's labor, and especially domestic labor, is often
devalued or undervalued and this affects any damages awarded.
Treatment of women in the courtroom -- Women's credibility is often
devalued on the basis of sex rather than substance. Women lawyers are
subjected to demeaning comments and forms of address, to discrimination
in the types and importance of cases they are assigned, to sexual
harassment (with women of color subjected to particular disrespect).
White and male judges and lawyers are often unaware of the biased
behavior encountered by their minority and female counterparts.
The American Bar Association Model Code of Judicial Conduct, 1990
requires judges to not manifest bias or prejudice in the performance of
judicial duties, including bias or prejudice based on sex or sexual
orientation, and to not permit others under their direction to do so.
It also demands that a judge require lawyers in proceedings before them
to refrain from such behavior toward parties, witnesses, counsel or
others. Some states have begun to adopt these codes into their own
NON-GOVERNMENT ACTIONS AND ACHIEVEMENTS
In some states, where task forces have issued their reports, the
organized state, county and city bar associations have taken measures to
implement the recommendations.
In addition, various states have enacted legislation; conducted judicial
education programs; evaluated law school textbooks and curriculum and
developed alternative materials and methodology; established court
personnel programs; drawn up plans regarding domestic violence; adopted
gender bias complaint procedures; adopted amendments to codes of
judicial conduct, to codes of professional responsibility; established
sexual harassment policies; launched court watching programs; and drawn
up plans regarding judicial appointments.
They have amended their codes of professional responsibility to include
matters of gender bias, held programs and seminars on issues such as
rape, the economic value of homemaker work, and sought to improve the
behavior of male judges and lawyers towards women. Where aggressive
actions such as these have been taken, the evidence points towards
tangible improvements. To some extent, the greatest effect to date has
been the necessary first step: consciousness-raising. The problem is
acknowledged to exist and understood to be unacceptable.
LEGAL RIGHTS, LEGAL LITERACY, AND LEGAL SERVICES
THE CONVENTION OF THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST
STATUS -- The United States participated in the drafting of the
Convention and signed it on July 17, 1980. It was transmitted to the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Nov. 12, 1980, but lacked the
necessary legal analysis to determine how the Convention comports with
U.S. law. That remained the situation until 1993, when the Clinton
administration committed itself to move the Convention forward and seek
ratification. The administration has made it a top priority and the
legal analysis has been completed and will shortly be forwarded to the
Senate. The Senate is expected to consider the Convention in fall 1994.
Once the Administration's proposals are transmitted to the Senate, the
Foreign Relations Committee is expected to hold hearings to consider the
Convention. A two-thirds majority is required for the Senate to give
advice and consent to ratification. When this is voted, the President
signs the instrument of ratification which is deposited with the UN.
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ACTIVITY: The National Committee on UN/CEDAW, a
voluntary grassroots group, formed after the 1985 World Conference on
Women in Nairobi to work for the Convention's passage in the U.S. It
works to raise public awareness of and knowledge about the Convention;
meets with Congressional members to enlist support and devise strategies
for passage; and gathers support from prominent individuals and
Since 1986, B'Nai B'Rith Women, an organization of 100,000 Jewish women,
has been working for the Convention's ratification and has organized a
coalition of volunteer and professional organizations to educate the
public on the issue and to advocate for ratification in the U.S. B'Nai
B'Rith Women also commissioned a Washington law firm to prepare an
analysis of the Convention, which the firm did as a pro bono
contribution, and presented this analysis to the State Department for
consultation in its independent analysis.
Human Rights Watch/Women's Rights Project, the International Human
Rights Law Group, and various other NGOs have been actively involved in
obtaining independent legal analysis and working for ratification.
Defining and claiming women's legal rights or establishing legal
equality builds on basic federal anti-discrimination law such as the
Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 and its subsequent amendments,
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Fair Housing Act of
1968, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1972, the Pregnancy
Discrimination Act of 1978, the Retirement Equity Act of 1984, the
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and the Family and Medical
Leave Act of 1993. In the U.S. this often involves taking individual and
class action suits to court and establishing legal precedents through
Sixteen states also have constitutional equal rights provisions which
have provided gains for women in the areas of education, employment, and
family law. Despite wide public support, federal constitutional
equality for women has not been obtained and remains a major goal of
many women activists and women's organizations.
As defined in OEF International's Legal Literacy: A Tool for Women's
Empowerment, legal literacy refers to the capacity to use the law as a
resource. It is a process of acquiring critical awareness about rights
and the law, includes the ability to claim and assert rights, and the
capacity to mobilize for change. In short, it makes the law relevant
and real in women's lives, and enables them to become agents of change -
- as lawyers, advocates and activists.
This is an area where American women and organizations -- governmental
and non-governmental -- have been very active during the past decade.
Local and State Commissions on the Status of Women, law schools,
independent law projects and legal clinics, bar associations, feminist
organizations such as NOW's Legal Defense and Education Fund, the
National Women's Law Center, the Women's Legal Defense Fund, religious
groups, and government agencies all publish handbooks, newsletters and
special bulletins to alert women to their rights and how to use them.
In addition these same organizations hold workshops and training
sessions and at times are able to provide services on a walk-in basis at
legal service centers and clinics.
The examples of the activities surrounding legal equality and literacy
are vast and too numerous to detail here. An example of the range
includes the American Civil Liberties Union's handbook, The Rights of
Women, now in its third edition, as of 1993. It covers a broad range of
constitutional rights, and broad areas of federal and state law as it
relates to the workplace, marriage and family, criminal justice,
education, insurance, homelessness.
A more specific and local example of the efforts to promote legal
literacy is "Know Your Rights: A Guide to Legal Remedies for Domestic
Violence in the District of Columbia," published by the Sex
Discrimination Clinic of Georgetown University Law Center.
WOMEN DECISION-MAKERS IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR
Business Proprietors -- In 1970, women owned less than 5% of the
nation's businesses. From 1977 to 1985, women-owned sole
proprietorships nearly doubled from 1.9 million to 3.7 million. By
1990, there were 5.3 million. Women-owned businesses are the fastest
growing sector of the small business community, with women opening
businesses at twice the rate of men. Their business receipts, however,
lag substantially behind those of their male counterparts. According to
U.S. Bureau of Census figures in 1982, women owned approximately 25% of
all small businesses, but received only 10% of business receipts. By
1987, with women owning upwards of 30% of small businesses, receipts had
increased 183% to $278.1 billion, or 14% of the total.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) reports that factors accounting
for the discrepancy in receipts include the size and types of businesses
with women predominating in many low-paying industries and trades.
However, as women start more businesses in higher technical and
professional industries, the income gap is narrowing.
FEDERAL ACTION -- LEGISLATION
The Committee on Small Business of the U.S. House of Representatives in
1988 identified four barriers to women-owned businesses that merited
special attention: (1) the need for management and technical training
to maximize the growth potential of women-owned businesses; (2)
inequality of access to commercial credit; (3) the virtual exclusion of
women-owned businesses from government procurement activities; and (4)
the inadequacy of information and data relative to women-owned
Women's Business Ownership Act of 1988: This Act amended the Small
Business Act to establish programs and initiate efforts to assist the
development of small business concerns owned and controlled by women.
Specifically, it (1) created a demonstration project for a three year
period to establish long-term counseling and training centers for women
business owners and potential owners; (2) created a guaranteed loan
program for loans up to $50,000 to increase women's access to credit;
and (3), established a National Women's Business Council for a five year
period to review issues and submit recommendations to the White House
and Congress on ways to improve the status of women in business. The
Women's Business Development Act of 1991 reauthorized the demonstration
project for four years and permanently reauthorized the small loan
FEDERAL ACTION -- PROGRAM
The Office of Women's Business Ownership, established in 1979, under the
Small Business Administration in order to implement a national policy to
support women entrepreneurs, has the responsibility of carrying out the
Women's Business Ownership Act of 1988 and the Women's Business
Development Act of 1991. The goals are to increase women's access to
capital, to increase women's participation in government contracting, to
increase training for women entrepreneurs, especially in management and
technical business skills, to increase women's participation in
international markets and improve data collection and dissemination of
information to women business owners.
Since 1990, 39 long-term business training centers authorized by the Act
have been established in 20 states, and 20,000 women have received
training and counseling for up to a one year period. In addition, the
number of women receiving training and counseling offered by or through
SBA offices increased from 193,268 clients in 1980 to 319,003 clients
Loans to women approved by the SBA have increased from 1,915 in 1984 to
3,879 in 1993; dollar amounts tripled from $197 million in 1984 to $742
million in 1993.
The Women's Network for Entrepreneurial Training was initiated in 1988.
It is a one-year voluntary mentoring program, with mentors recruited by
SBA district offices and a National Steering Committee. Currently,
there are 600 mentoring partnerships.
The federal government spends billions of dollars annually on a wide
range of products and services. Since 1979, the number and value of
federal procurement contracts going to women-owned businesses have
steadily increased from $181.3 million to $3.2 billion in 1993.
However, women's share of federal contract monies amounted to 0.22% in
1979, and rose to a mere 1.8% of the total in 1993.
At the Census Bureau, as part of the 1982 and 1987 economic censuses,
special surveys were made to compile information of the characteristics
of women business owners, i.e. how they began, where they got their
money, their age, marital status, etc.
Corporate Managers, Executives, Directors
National Foundation for Women Business Owners reports "Between 1978 to
1988, the number of women in management positions in the U.S. more than
doubled, going from 2.5 million to 5.6 million. Women managers now
constitute 39% of all persons in executive, administrative and
managerial positions. However, few are at the very top."
Corporate Management -- After its 1990 survey of Fortune/Service 500
companies, Catalyst* reported that women make up less than 5% of senior
managers, at or above the level of vice president. In their analysis,
Catalyst notes that in 1968 women represented about 15% of all
management, indicating that if it were simply a matter of time, with
women entering the work force in larger numbers and gradually reaching
the highest levels, the number of CEOs and senior executives should be
higher by now. In its 1991 analysis, "Empowering Women in Business,"
the Feminist Majority Foundation projects equality for women with men in
corporate management, based on the current rates, in 475 years, 2466.
* A not-for-profit nongovernmental organization, based in New York, that
has been working for more than 30 years with business to effect change
for women through research, advisory services, and communication.
Women are more likely to be at all levels of management in the financial
services industry -- in finance, insurance, and real estate where 50% of
the managers, executives and administrators are women. They make up 48%
in the service industries; 44% of wholesale and retail trade; 27% of
agriculture; 23% of mining and 13% of construction.
Corporate Boards -- In its 1993 census of female directors of corporate
boards of Fortune 500 and Service 500 companies, Catalyst reports that
of 11,715 board seats, 721 of them, or 6.2%, were held by women, i.e.
5.9% of the directorships in the industrial sector; 6.4% in the service
sector. Ten percent of these women were minorities. With corporate
boards averaging 13 directors, only 526 companies have one or more women
on the board. Despite the low numbers and percentages, this is
progress. In 1976, there were only 46 female corporate directors. Part
of the reason for the slow advance is that board members are usually
drawn from the pool of active or retired Corporate Executive Officers.
The non-service industries with the highest representation of women on
their boards are soaps, cosmetics, jewelry, silverware, toys, sporting
goods and publishing. Mining has the lowest number. Of the service
industries, utilities rank highest; transportation lowest.
FEDERAL ACTION - LEGISLATION
Since 1968 the Department of Labor (DOL) has had the authority to review
Government contractors for nondiscrimination and affirmative action at
all levels, including positions at the very top of the corporate ladder.
However, partially because of the difficulty in evaluating top
executive-level recruitment and promotion patterns, corporate mid- and
upper-level management decisions have rarely been the focus of
compliance reviews performed by the government. As a result, corporate
employment practices with regard to executive opportunities for women
and minority employees have not received the attention that the
opportunities for lower level employees' have received.
Promulgated in 1970, the Federal regulation directing compliance reviews
on sexually discriminatory employment practices by Federal contractors,
Women have not been typically found in significant numbers in
management. In many companies management trainee programs are one of
the ladders to management positions. Traditionally, few, if any, women
have been admitted to these programs. An important element of
affirmative action shall be a commitment to include women candidates in
In 1989, the Department of Labor began to investigate the glass ceiling
in corporate America to see if there was a problem, what were the
causes; and if there was a problem, then how this problem could be
fixed. After a year-long study of barriers to advancement, in 1991, the
DOL issued its finding -- The Report on the Glass Ceiling Initiative.
That report defines the glass ceiling as any artificial barrier, based
on attitudinal or organizational bias, that prevents qualified
individuals from advancing upward into management positions. DOL began
conducting corporate management compliance reviews of major companies to
determine if there are glass ceilings, the nature of the barriers
creating these hurdles and what companies were doing to eliminate them.
In general, these reviews have found that there tend to be levels beyond
which minorities and women have not advanced in significant numbers.
These levels are lower in the management hierarchy than first thought.
Other findings have been:
-- Companies were not adequately monitoring the equal opportunity and
advancement of women and minorities, especially as they progressed to
higher level corporate careers;
-- Companies were not adequately monitoring compensation practices and
the evaluation systems which are used to judge employees' potential;
-- Women and minorities were more likely to be placed in staff
positions such as human resources and public relations, than in line
positions such as sales and production. It is normally to the line
positions that corporations look for future executives;
-- Records concerning recruitment, career development, training and
career building were inadequate.
The Department also analyzed data from a random sample consisting of 94
reviews of corporate headquarters of Fortune 1000 companies over three
years. The data indicated that:
-- Of 147,179 employees at these companies, women represent 37.2% of
all employees and minorities represent 15.5%.
-- Of the 147,179 employees, 31,184 were in all levels of management,
from the supervisor of a clerical pool to the Chief Executive Officers
and chairpersons. Of this number, 16.9% are women and 6% are
-- Of 4,491 managers at the executive level (defined as assistant vice
president and higher rank or their equivalent), 6.6% are women and 2.6%
THE GLASS CEILING COMMISSION
Title II of the 1991 Civil Rights Act created this 21 member body,
appointed partly by the President and partly by congressional leaders.
Chaired by the Secretary of Labor, the Commission studies opportunities
for and artificial barriers to the advancement of women and minorities
to management and decision-making positions in business and ways
businesses fill management and decision-making positions, train and
develop people for advancement into such positions, and compensate and
To identify a wide variety of workforce diversity issues, the Commission
has research contracts with 17 universities, public policy
organizations, and individuals. Data from the research projects will
help Commission members make policy recommendations to the President and
Congress. The recommendations will identify institutional and
psychological barriers currently hindering qualified minorities and
women from enhancing their employment status. The research will also
identify gaps in data currently available to policy-makers and recommend
areas for future study.
FEDERAL ACTION - PROGRAM
DOL has launched a four pronged approach: education, compliance
assistance, corporate management compliance reviews and recognition for
corporations with active programs to assure full opportunities are
afforded minorities and women. Some of the major areas of inquiry
include: executive search firms, word-of-mouth recruitment, succession
planning, identification of high potential employees, relocation and
overseas assignments, cash bonuses, stock and stock options, and
terminations, including maternity-related reasons.
Since the implementation of the Glass Ceiling Initiative, a number of
major corporations have implemented programs to ensure that women and
minorities have equal access to employment opportunities at the higher
levels of corporate management.
To make a positive acknowledgment of the progressive policies and human
resource accomplishments of contractor companies, each year the DOL
recognizes a select number of contractors with honorary awards.
By acknowledging the success of firms who take affirmative steps to
assure equality and expand the opportunities of women and minorities,
and thus fully reflect the diversity of the workforce, the concepts
themselves achieve a broader recognition and adoption throughout the
Nonprofit Corporation Management and Boards -- Women accounted for 65.2%
of all professionals employed at United Way organizations in 1992 and
for 63.9% of United Way of America's professional staff. At the highest
level, President and CEO of local United Way agencies, women increased
from 36.9% in 1980, to 37.4% in 1986, to 47.6% in 1992. In Family
Service agencies, Family Service America, Inc. reported that in 1993,
women were CEOs in 36.3% of agencies; and represented 65% of management
and 78% of professional staff.
Private voluntary organizations (PVOs), or non-governmental
organizations (NGOs), engaged in socio-economic development around the
world have been playing a leading role in involving women as actors,
participants and beneficiaries in economic development around the world.
However, women have not always been involved in the decision-making
process of the PVOs themselves. In 1988, InterAction's Women in
Development subcommittee met to examine the relationship between women's
leadership and the success of development efforts. (InterAction is the
American Council for Voluntary International Action -- a coalition of
158 American private and voluntary organizations working in
international relief and development, refugee assistance, disaster
relief, public policy and public relations among Americans.)
The following year, a survey conducted by InterAction found that women
hold 416 (41%) of a total 981 senior staff workforce in the profession.
This compares with 211 (31%) of 679 senior staff positions in 1987. The
survey found that women are not as well represented on boards of
directors, holding 823 (28%) of 2922 board seats; up just one percent
Philanthropic Organizations -- In the U.S., there are 32,401 foundations
that hold $142.5 billion in assets. These can be either private,
independent, public, community, or corporate, and they give away about
$8.7 billion per year, usually in grants to charities and nonprofit
Based on surveys conducted biennially since 1980, with the 1992 survey
representing 40%, or $57 billion, of total assets and $3.3 billion, or
40% of total grants made in 1991:
The proportion of women serving on boards increased from 23% in
1982 to 29% in 1988, and has been steady since then (the most recent
survey was 1992). Men, in other words, comprise 71% of board directors.
Of the 8,729 foundations surveyed, about one fifth, or 1,967,
reported having paid staff. The proportion of women CEOs has increased
from 26% in 1982 to 43% in 1992. This dramatic rate of increase has
slowed since then. While women are the majority of CEOs in community,
corporate and public foundations, in general they head smaller
foundations. Only 17% of foundations with assets over $100 million are
headed by women, as compared with 63% of foundations with assets under
$10 million. Minority women account for 3.8% of all CEOs reported in
Women comprise 59% of all foundation and giving program paid
professional staff, up from 55% in 1984. Corporate foundations have the
highest proportion of women professionals, 73%. Program officer
positions are increasingly dominated by women, with women holding 61% of
the positions in 1992, and minority women making up 15% of the total.
Beneficiaries of Philanthropy -- In 1977, Women and Foundations/
Corporate Philanthropy was founded as a response to the
disproportionately small number of philanthropic resources available to
women and girls. Their overall concern is that women and girls get the
smallest amount of the philanthropic pie. While they acknowledge that
women and girls have benefitted to some extent from gender neutral
programs intended to improve the quality of life, they emphasize that
program design directly affects impact, and that too often foundations
see women's issues as an "add on" to larger, more generic and essential
In 1975, the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund documented that less
than one half of 1% of all grants were clearly identified as improving
the status of women and girls. In 1979, the Ford Foundation documented
that during the 1970s .6% of all philanthropic dollars went to programs
for women and girls. In 1989, Women and Foundations/ Corporate
Philanthropy reported that the dollar amount of grants to women and
girls had doubled during the 1980s but that the grants represented only
4% of the decade's total. From national health research grants to local
community support for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, women get less and are
perceived to be less important.
In 1992, for example, the YMCA received $113.9 million and the YWCA
received $69.9 million -- a $58.5 million gap. In 1990 the gap was $39
million. In 1992, Girl Scouts received $31.1 million less in United Way
grants than Boy Scouts.
Although women of color are three times more likely to be poor than
white women, of a sample of 2,700 foundation grants that went to women
and girls in 1989, only 110, or 4% went specifically to women and girls
Although heart disease, endometriosis, cervical cancer and an epidemic
of breast cancer are among the medical problems that affect the health
of American women, especially poor women of color, only 2.9% of
foundation funding for medical research was designated for research on
Despite the fact that a rape is committed every three minutes in the
United States, and that most communities are without programs for sexual
assault victims, only .9% of foundation funding for mental health
programs supported rape victims services. Domestic violence is the
number one health problem for American women. Yet foundations devoted
only 1% of their human services funding to the support of programs for
victims of domestic violence.
While women and children make up the majority of the nation's poor,
programs directed to women and girls accounted for only 8.6% of the
private or non-governmental programs; 7.5% of adult continuing education
programs; and 3.2% of food and nutrition programs.
Philanthropists -- Traditionally, while American women have been
extraordinarily generous with their time and services, providing the
backbone for volunteerism in this country, women have made smaller
monetary gifts than men, whether their money has been inherited or
earned by them. On average women still, in 1992, gave 1.8% of their
incomes to charity while men gave 3.1%, and they were less likely to
make major gifts than men.
The disparity goes deeper than the fact that women often have less money
than men. The IRS reported that in 1986, of the 3.3 million Americans
with gross assets of $500,000 or more, 41.2% were women. Even when
funds are equal, and substantial, the disparity in giving remains. To
some extent women are not solicited as frequently as men; they have less
experience in money management; they are not as competitive in their
giving as men are with their male peers; and they need to be persuaded
to "think big."
However, increasingly women are becoming donors and fundraisers. The
transformation that has been taking place is sometimes described as a
rite of passage, a coming of age, into the world of decision-making and
Women are becoming professional, high level fund raisers and, in the
late 1980s, began forming their own professional organizations. A
national Network on Women as Philanthropists, formed in 1991, grew in
its first year from 25 to 500 fundraisers and donors.
The overall aim however, seems to be not to segregate women for the long
term, but to move them onto foundation boards and high level staff
positions. However, in the past decade women have begun establishing
women's funds and foundations that provide money to organizations that
serve women and girls. The National Network of Women's Funds reported
65 such organizations in 1992, 50 of them formed in the past ten years.
For example the Ms. Foundation for Women, the nation's oldest foundation
for women, has been making grants to programs serving girls for more
than 20 years. The Ms. Foundation describes some of its grantees and
their programs as follows:
Cool Girls, Inc., located in an Atlanta housing development,
reaches out to girls with tutorial, educational and mentoring programs
that focus on pregnancy prevention, child abuse prevention, drop-out
prevention, conflict resolution, self-esteem development, and leadership
training. Cool Girls, Inc. credits its philosophy of openness and
trust, as well as its holistic approach to programming, with the
organization's growth from 7 girls to 100 and a success rate of only two
girls becoming pregnant, during its four year history. Also crucial to
the success of the program has been the one-on-one relationships with
women who provide mentoring, role modeling and friendship.
We're Educators - A Touch of Class (WEATOC) is a peer-oriented
health education program, in Boston, with an emphasis on preventing teen
pregnancies. It has recently expanded to include other pressing issues
such as AIDS, substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, violence,
and suicide. WEATOC recognizes the powerful influence of peer pressure
and has involved girls in every phase of operation of its new project:
Sister to Sister. The WEATOC program has proven to be a successful
model for peer leadership programs and health curricula now in use by
other organization and schools in the Boston area. Among its
accomplishments, WEATOC claims that of the 200 trained peer educators
who have stayed with the program through adolescence, none abuse drugs,
alcohol or tobacco, none is a high school dropout, and only one has
Youth Advocacy Center, Inc. is the only group in New York City that
advocated for foster care youth by directly involving them, as partners
in public advocacy, in projects that involve education, media, and the
law. The girls involved in the program conduct research, lead workshops
for girls in maternity shelters, group homes and residential treatment
centers. They write and publish articles about their experiences on
such topics as: the rights of pregnant girls or teen mothers in the
foster care system. The information the girls provide to policy makers
and professionals in the child welfare system has the potential to
positively impact on their decision.
Come Into the Sun Coalition/Street Survival Project, in California,
has developed an innovative model of employing young women, ages 14 to
20, to conduct outreach and action research among their peers. These
girls are hard to reach by service providers or researchers, and
therefore, the peer training is a crucial component of the program.
Other important aspects include the provision of culturally relevant
HIV, health education, job and housing information, self-defense
workshops, and building inter-generational links with positive role
models/mentors among adult lesbians. The program helps the young women
build their self-esteem and develop the skills the need to re-evaluate
their lives and reduce dependence on a life that will keep them in
poverty and in a violent environment.
The Ackerman Institute, a family treatment and training
organization in New York City, is dedicated to the promotion of family
health, resilience, and resourcefulness. Since 1990, the Ackerman
Institute has worked with a consortium of agencies (legal, social
service, foster care, etc.) to develop a coordinated and comprehensive
treatment approach toward incest. The program utilizes an explicitly
intergenerational approach, strengthening the ties between mothers and
daughters to enable them to become allies in combating this form of
violence against girls. The model is also being used to train
children's advocates, therapists, and mental health providers.
The Girls After School Academy (GASA), located in one of San
Francisco's most problematic housing projects, is a comprehensive after-
school program for African American girls who have no where else to go
that is safe and constructive. GASA provides culturally relevant
workshops, academic support, adult mentor relationships, and activities
with the purpose of giving girls opportunities, resources, skills, and
hope. Given the important role of mentors in the girls' lives, the
program is committed to hiring and training women residents of the
housing project as staff counselors and trainers, thus making the
program a truly community-based, intergenerational project. Few
programs exist that are specifically designed to address the multiple
oppressions experienced by African American girls, and even fewer are as
committed to community empowerment.
Labor Union Leaders -- The Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) is a
national group with 75 local chapters and a membership of 20,000 women
from 60 labor unions. Founded in 1974, it has four goals: to organize
the unorganized; promote affirmative action; increase women's
participation in their unions; and increase women's participation in
political and legislative activity. It has taken an advocacy role on
such issues as child care; national health insurance; pay equity;
substance abuse; sexual harassment; family policies; the situation of
minority women, retired and older women; reproductive rights; and the
effect of video display terminals on the worker.
Since 1960, women's share of union membership in the U.S. has increased
from 18.3% to 37%, but only 14% of employed women are unionized. Women
are generally concentrated into a few unions viz., public sector and
service employment during a time when manufacturing jobs have, in
general, been in decline. Union growth has been mostly in the public
sector while private industries have been showing a decline in union
While women are now two of every five union members, CLUW's 1980 survey
Absent from the Agenda found that only 8%, or 1 in 12, U.S. union
leaders was female. A followup partial survey in 1985 found that in 15
major U.S. unions with the highest female membership -- an average of
45% -- only 9.7% of members of national governing boards were women.
As of 1994, only two women (2.1%) held a top leadership post, as
president or chief executive, among the 92 member unions of the AFL-CIO.
The AFL-CIO Executive Council, composed of 35 members, has three women
CLUW has not done another survey. Currently there seems to be little
further progress at the national level, but some progress at local and
regional levels. The only place where women are represented in
proportion to their membership is in nearly all-female unions such as
the American Nurses Association.
Women's leadership is difficult to identify because the data are no
longer collected by CLUW or the U.S. government and unions themselves
are reluctant to collect or publish it. A survey of the International
Labor Organization (ILO) found, for example, that the International
Ladies Garment Workers Union has a membership that is 83% women in 1990,
was 85% in 1985, and 80% in 1979. Yet women accounted for only 22% (4)
of its executive board members in 1990. This was an increase, however,
from 13% in 1985, and 7% in 1979. United Autoworkers Union with only
13% women members in 1985 had 4% women leaders.
The ILO study attributed the discrepancy to several factors, including
hostility to women leaders, lack of background skills, domestic
responsibilities versus demands and schedules of unions, the lack of
role models and lack of self-esteem.
Women labor organizers have been promoting measures to change this
situation such as: organizing their own caucuses within unions to
promote their agenda and leaders; holding training workshops for
potential leaders; restructuring of the union's leadership requirements
and time commitments; affirmative action policies and programs within
unions; advanced leadership training in contract bargaining and staff
management and strategic planning; mentoring programs; and actively
seeking support from the general membership on issues of concern to
women members -- an activity which can serve as an organizing tool.
They are finding that progress is easier to achieve, and can happen more
quickly, by increasing the number of women staff rather than elected
leaders. Affirmative action programs can be applied to hiring;
professionals can earn educational and other credentials relevant to
their jobs; whereas elected officers come from the rank and file and
must win among a bargaining unit that traditionally has elected men.
In 1986, of 1,304 newspapers with 3,408 directing editorships, women
held 421, or 12.4% of the positions, men 2,987, or 87.6%. Directing
editorships are defined as: editor-in-chief, executive editor, editor,
associate or assistant executive editor, managing editor, editorial page
editor and news editor. As continues to be true in 1992, in 1986 no
women were editor-in-chief; 16 were executive editor, 106 editor.
In 1992 no women were editor-in-chief; 21 women and 197 men were
executive editors, 144 women and 879 men were editors. Few of these
jobs at papers with circulations over 50,000 were held by women. In the
American Society of Newspaper Editors Bulletin (November 1986) veteran
editor Dorothy Jurney reports that from 1977 through 1986, women made a
gain of 7.2% in directing editorships.
The National Federation of Press Women reported that in 1992, of the
1,564 Sunday and daily newspapers published in the United States, women
were publishers of 122 (8.7) of them; women held 873 (19.4%), of 4,501
directing editorships at these 1,564 papers.
In 1994, for the sixth year in a row, the annual survey conducted for
the Women, Men and Media project of the University of Southern
California and New York University, concluded that women, primarily in
coverage but also in reporting, are significantly under-represented in
newspapers across the country and on nightly television network news
However, the 1994 survey recorded the highest percentages in six years
for references to and photos of women on the front pages of selected
newspapers. Since the initial 1989 study, front page references to
women have more than doubled, now averaging 25%.
The project conducts a one-month survey of 10 major market and 10 small
market newspapers (circulation 20,000 - 50,000) and the three major
television networks. It tabulates the number of front page by-lined
stories and photographs by women; and the number of references to women
as subject or source in a front page story.
In 1994, women wrote 34% of the front page by-lined articles and 28% of
the opinion pieces on the editorial pages. Males appeared in 67% of the
front page photos; females in 39%. These figures represent a small
increase -- in 1989 (the first year surveyed) bylines and photos
averaged 27% and 11% referenced women as subject or source.
Television news was similar. Of 838 news segments, 21% were reported by
women, up from 14% in 1993. Women comprised 25% of those interviewed.
In 1989, women reported 15% of the stories and were 10.9% of those
interviewed or making the news.
In the analysis of the news coverage, the survey found that positive
portrayals of women and girls include a substantially higher number of
entertainers than for males. Positive portrayals of men focus more on
males as authorities, leaders, opinion makers. Females are portrayed
negatively far more than males by both print and broadcast news media.
Coverage of outstanding female leaders and experts on key pages in
newspapers and in network nightly news show stories is minimal.
The surveys, while indicating steady improvement in coverage of women,
have found there is a general tendency to trivialize or objectify women,
by concentrating more on their clothing, grooming and appearance than
that of male counterparts. Issues of particular concern to women, such
as gender-based employment and education, discrimination, violence
against women, sexual harassment and health problems often are treated
as less than priority news. Abortion and reproductive rights make page
one; however, the survey noted than it is not unusual to have more men
than women used as sources in these stories.
There has been less measurable progress among women in the arts and
entertainment. A 1991 survey in Hollywood by Women in Film showed that
only three women (and 45 men) were presidents at any of the operations
of 20 entertainment companies. The survey also revealed that only 2 of
the 20 companies employed at least 30% women at the senior or executive
vice president level and above.
In 1992, women comprised 43.8% of those employed as writers, artists,
entertainers and athletes, but their earnings were only 79.7% of
comparable men's. Also in 1992, women in the arts were 49.5% of
painters, sculptors, craft artists and printmakers, and 31.7% of
professional artistic photographers.
MECHANISMS TO ADVANCE THE STATUS OF WOMEN
NATIONAL: There have been several national commissions and advisory
councils for women established by presidential executive orders since
1960. However, there has been no one continuous body at the national
level. From time to time, the establishment of such a group -- either
by legislation or executive order -- has been considered, but in general
support for such a national mechanism has not been sufficient to secure
its establishment. There are differing opinions among those advocating
the advancement of women about the desirability and efficacy of such a
mechanism; with those opposed expressing fears of such a mechanism
serving to marginalize women's issues; with those in favor insisting
that the only way women's issues will be successfully integrated into
the mainstream is by establishing such a high level mechanism.
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy established the President's
Commission on the Status of Women. It produced a report, "American
Women" in 1963 that documented economic and social problems facing women
and suggested remedies to them. As a follow-up, in 1964, President
Lyndon B. Johnson established an Interdepartmental Committee on the
Status of Women and a Citizen's Advisory Council. The Council continued
until 1978 when it was abolished and replaced by the National Advisory
Committee for Women. Within a year it was replaced by the President's
Advisory Committee for Women, a committee that automatically ended on
Dec. 31, 1980. Since then, no advisory committee has been established
to address only women's issues.
However, in accordance and coordination with the U.N. mandates to
establish the U.N. Decade for Women, the U.S. established a National
Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year. In 1976
this IWY Commission published "... To Form A More Perfect Union...:
Justice for American Women" - a report on the barriers to full
participation in the life of the Nation, and a compilation of
recommendations based on its findings. The IWY held a National
Conference of Women in Houston, Texas in 1977, an event that was
preceded by state conferences where the 2,000 delegates to Houston were
elected. The conference adopted a 26 point National Plan of Action. In
1978 IWY Commission issued a report on the conference, "The Spirit of
The IWY Commission ended by law in 1978 but appointed a 400 member
continuing committee in its place. The continuing committee has done
just that, and is now called the National Women's Conference Committee.
As an all volunteer organization with no paid staff, the Committee has
participated in the U.N. Women's Conferences, monitors implementation of
the National Plan of Action and promotes the establishment of regional
and statewide networks based upon the Plan. In 1988 it released a report
of its survey that measured progress on the National Plan: "Decade of
STATE AND LOCAL: The President's Commission's report spearheaded a
movement to establish state commissions in every state. The first
national conference of State Commissions on the Status of Women was held
in Washington in 1964 and by the end of the year, 33 states had
The Interstate Association of Commissions on the Status of Women (IACSW)
was formed in 1970 at the time of the 50th Anniversary Conference of the
Women's Bureau. In 1975, the name was officially changed to the
National Association of Commissions for Women (NACW) to accommodate the
growing number of local commissions and to assure them participation in
the organization on an equal basis within the States. Composed of
State, regional, county, and local commissions created by governments to
improve the status of women, the NACW provides an information exchange
among government, private sector, and women's organizations and gives a
national voice to the commissions. The Women's Bureau reports that in
1994 there were some 262 State, country and municipal commissions for
women in the United states, including 40 statewide organizations as well
as those for the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. At one time all
50 States had Commissions, but for various reasons over the years, some
were abolished or became inactive.
The NACW monitors federal legislation of concern to women; presents
testimony at congressional and public hearings; surveys commissions for
goals, projects, problems and provides guidance; works with other
national women's organizations and serves as a clearinghouse for
research conducted at the local level.
The activities of the state and local commissions vary. Some conduct
research and produce studies on issues of concern to women; they
petition legislatures and county councils to respond to specific
situations or desired legislation; hold hearings, forums and workshops;
establish task forces on single issues, such as domestic violence,
pornography, child care; publish women's directories of services;
participate in women's networks and coalitions; and monitor legislation.
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (NGOs): The reality of the situation in
the United States is that the most effective mechanisms for the
advancement of the status of women are and have always been non-
governmental organizations. This is true at the national, regional,
state and local levels.
While some large organizations have histories that go back for a
century, non-governmental organizations committed to the advancement of
women have proliferated over the past three decades. They span a range
from small grassroots groups organized around a single event or issue to
large national membership organizations with local chapters which engage
in a spectrum of issues.
Organizations representing the interests of a specific minority or
ethnic group, such as the Mexican American National Women's
Organization, the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women, the
National Council of Negro Women, the Pan Asian Women's National
Association, Commision Feminil have continued to work for the full
integration and advancement of their groups which face serious
disadvantages because of the double or triple burdens of race, ethnic
origin or language based discrimination.
Increasingly women are organizing around their professions and around
single issues, joining in coalitions with other groups for issues of
common interest. The groups are too numerous to itemize and describe in
a report of this size, but the report would be incomplete without
acknowledging their collective role and impact.
The women's rights movement, as it has proceeded in this country, is an
example of citizens in a democracy taking action. Women, often joined
by men, have identified issues and organized around them. They have
raised public awareness, caught the attention of the media, provided
hands-on service and action, and pushed governments -- both elected and
appointed officials and civil servants -- to respond. They have been
the driving force behind new legislation and legislative reform.
The century began with women organizing around the right to vote. Now,
as the century draws to an end, thousands of women are organizing around
many different issues, each of which as the UN has suggested, falls in
one of three broad categories: equality, development, or peace. As in
the past, so now: as the full range of women's rights has continued to
come to women in the U.S., it has never been a matter of policy imposed
from the top; rather it has always been a process -- sometimes a slow,
arduous and fractious process -- of policy emerging from the grassroots,
from the citizens, women citizens, and becoming de jure and de facto
reality. Only through the mobilization of women have advances for
women's rights been achieved.
SOURCES for EQUALITY SECTION
Women in Elective Office
Main Source: Center for the American Woman and Politics,(CAWP), Rutgers
Other Sources: U.S. Conference of Mayors, National Women's Political
Caucus (NWPC), EMILY's List, Women in the Senate and House (WISH),
Hollywood Women's Political Committee
Women in Appointive Office
National Women's Political Caucus/ Coalition for Women's Appointments;
Center for the American Woman and Politics
Women Employed in Federal Agencies; Women in International Public Sector
Office of Personnel Management
Department of State: Offices of Personnel, Resources Management and
Analysis, Presidential Appointments; Foreign Service Journal
Women and the Judicial System
Alliance for Justice
National Center for State Courts
Black Judges in the United States, 1991
Overall source for gender bias in the courts: National Judicial
Education Program to Promote Equality for Women and Men in the Courts (a
joint project of NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund in cooperation
with the National Association of Women Judges) -- Lynn Hecht Schafran
"The Judge's Book,"1994 edition, Chapter 5: Integration of Women
and Minority Judges into the American Judiciary -- Lynn Hecht Schafran
and Norma J. Wilkerby, co-authored by Judge Gladys Kessler and Judge
Women Decision-makers in the Private Sector
Department of Commerce
Small Business Administration
Corporations: Management and Boards:
Catalyst; National Association of Female Executives; Department of
Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1992
Non-Profit Corporations: Management and Boards:
United Way of America; Human Resources Division; Family Service of
America, Inc.; InterAction
Council on Foundations; The Chronicle of Philanthropy; Ms.
Foundation for Women; Women and Foundation/Corporate Philanthropy
Coalition of Labor Union Women; "Women Workers, Unions and
Industrial Sectors in North America", by Susan C. Eaton, for the
International Labour Organization
Main Source - Women, Men and Media;
Other Sources - National Federation of Press Women, Inc.;
National Association of Female Executives
The Glass Ceiling
The U.S. Department of Labor
Mechanisms to Advance Women's Role
The National Association of Commissions for Women; "The Feminist
Chronicles 1953 - 1993" by Toni Carabillo, Judith Meuli and June Bundy
Csida; "American Women: 1963; 1983; 2003" by Catherine East; "Decade of
Achievement: 1977 - 1987", A Project of the National Women's Conference
Center, May, 1988; "...To Form a More Perfect Union...," 1976 Report of
the National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year;
General Sources: Several Sections
American Association of Retired Persons; Feminist Majority Foundation
[End of Section 2 of 5]
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