Hillary Clinton this year could become the first woman president of the United States, breaking up a long-standing old-boys club.
But there is more to women’s history than the Democratic presidential front-runner, former secretary of state and U.S. senator. The U.S. Census provides some facts to help people properly understand the significance of Women’s History Month.
For instance, the roots of Women’s History Month trace back to March 8, 1857, when women from New York City factories protested over working conditions.
International Women’s Day was first celebrated in 1909. It wasn’t until 1981 that Congress established National Women’s History Week to be observed during the second week in March. Then in 1987, members of Congress got smart and expanded the week to a month.
The census estimated that as of July 2014 the U.S. had 162 million females, comprising 51 percent of the U.S. population. By age 85 and older, women outnumbered men by a ratio of 2 to 1, or 4.1 million to 2.1 million.
Women after 1970 began to enter the U.S. labor force in greater numbers to help support their families as real wages for Americans began to decline. By 2014, 75.6 million of females age 16 and up were in the civilian labor force. They comprised 47.4 percent of the total.
Women aren’t backing away from the science, technology, engineering and math fields. The census notes that women constitute 63 percent of social scientists, 14 percent of engineers, 45 percent of mathematicians and statisticians and 47 percent of life scientists.
The census also provides a breakout for some occupations that women are in comparing 1970 to 2006-2010. Some telling trends emerge.
For instance, 97.3 percent of registered nurses were women in 1970 compared with 91.2 percent in 2006-2010. For Dental assistants the numbers were 97.9 percent in 1970 compared with 96.3 percent in 2006-2010. For cashiers, 84.2 percent in 1970 compared with 74.7 percent in 2006-2010; elementary and middle school teachers, 83.9 percent in 1970 and 79.3 percent in 2006-2010; pharmacists, 12.1 percent in 1970 jumping to 52.6 percent in 2006-2010; accountants, 24.2 percent in 1970 leaping to 60 percent in 2006-2010; computer programmers, 24.2 percent compared with 24.4 percent in 2006-2010; lawyers and judges, 4.9 percent in 1970, bounding to 33.4 percent in 2006-2010; physicians and surgeons, 9.7 percent in 1970, rising to 32.4 percent by 2006-2010; police officers, 3.7 percent in 1970, increasing to 14.8 percent by 2006-2010; and civil engineers, 1.3 percent in 1970 and 12.7 percent by 2006-2010.
The census reports that 14 percent of females over age 16 worked in management compared with 15.6 percent of men. Women also haven’t shied away from the military. The U.S. had 1.6 million women veterans in 2014.
Women’s earning power also has gone up. Nine percent of women who are married earned at least $30,000 more than their husbands in 2015, up from 6 percent in 2000.
The median annual earnings for women age 15 and up working full time and year-round in 2014 was $39,621, for men it was $50,383. That means that pay disparity remains a problem. Women in 2014 in the U.S. made 79 cents for every dollar that men made.
Women remain determined to increase their earning power with 12.7 million women enrolled in undergraduate and graduate school in 2014. Women made up 55.2 percent of all college students in the U.S., which is greater than their share of the country’s population. Also, 30.2 percent of women age 25 and older had gotten a bachelor’s degree or higher as of 2014. That compares with 29.9 percent of men in the same age group with a bachelor’s degree or more.
Women take voting seriously — 43 percent of women who were citizens and age 18 or older reported that they voted in the 2014 election, compared with 40.8 percent of men.
The census notes that 43.5 million females in the U.S. age 15 to 50 in 2014 were mothers. Women age 40 to 44 as of 2014 had two children on average, down from 3.1 in 1976 when the census first began collecting that data.
In the U.S., 67.1 million women age 18 and older in 2015 were married. But only 5.2 million women were stay-at-home moms in 2015, compared with 199,000 stay-at-home dads.