12 Stats on Gender Equity That Are Scarier than Halloween

October 22, 2015


Editor’s note: This post was updated October 13, 2017, to reflect the latest statistics.

Halloween is the perfect time to tell ghost stories. But there’s nothing scarier than the true story of gender inequity in the United States. Forget ghouls, goblins, and graveyards — these statistics reflect a reality far scarier than whatever comes out to haunt on Halloween. But don’t get spooked! There’s lots you can do to support gender equity.

1. Research indicates it could be 102 years before women are paid as much as men.

November 2 is #LatinaEqualPay Day

I am worth more.
Latinas are paid 54 percent of what non-Hispanic white men are paid.

New data show that women working full time in the United States typically are paid just 80 percent of what non-Hispanic white men are paid. Because of the gender pay gap women have less disposable income with which to repay their student loans, leaving them paying more and for a longer time than men. These setbacks compound over a lifetime and can lead to families’ financial insecurity. That’s why AAUW is fighting to close the pay gap by offering salary negotiation workshops; providing case support to plaintiffs seeking fair pay; and advocating legislative action on equal pay at the federal, state, and local levels.

Join AAUW in the fight for fair pay.

2. In 2017, states passed 57 new abortion restrictions.

There’s nothing more frightening than a politician who doesn’t trust a woman to make her own informed choices about her health. But in 2017 we’ve seen repeated efforts at the state and federal levels to limit women’s access to reproductive health care, including access to birth control. Every woman should have the ability to make her own informed choices regarding her reproductive life within the guidelines of her moral and religious beliefs.

Stand up to attacks on reproductive rights.


3. Only 60 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots in 2016.

The right to vote is an essential part of our democracy. During the 2016 election voters in many states faced new restrictions at the polls. Without the protections of the Voting Rights Act (which was weakened in a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision), new laws were enacted, producing a chaotic voting environment that confused voters and created unnecessary barriers to the ballot box. Voter suppression tactics such as voter identification laws make it increasingly difficult for Americans to vote — particularly people of color, older people, low-income people, and those living in rural America, some of whom may not have driver’s licenses or any means of obtaining one. Women are also affected by these laws: For example, many women have changed their names after marriage but have not updated their ID cards to reflect that change. We need Congress to act now to uphold the fundamental right to vote.

Urge your members of Congress to protect voting rights.


4. For the millions of Americans without paid sick days deciding to stay home to care for a sick child or other family member could jeopardize their jobs or family income.

More than 22 million working women do not have paid sick days. The cost is especially high for mothers: 40 percent of mothers say they are solely responsible for staying home from work with sick children compared with only 3 percent of fathers. Women also disproportionately bear the economic opportunity cost of taking family members to the doctor, but often put off seeking health care for themselves because they can’t take time off of work. In the absence of paid sick leave many low-wage workers must go to work sick and contagious. For those who work in industries such as food service, that endangers public health.

Tell your members of Congress that women need paid sick days.


1 in 5 women is a target of sexual assault while in college.

5. One in five women are the targets of attempted or completed sexual assault while attending college.

An estimated total of 23 million women have been raped during their lifetimes. LGBT individuals face disproportionately high rates of sexual violence. Partly due to shame, stigma, and fear, the majority of sexual assaults go unreported. Instances of sexual harassment and sexual violence impede students’ ability to access an equitable and safe education — yet the U.S. Department of Education recently rescinded important Title IX regulations and guidance that have helped schools more effectively prevent and respond to sexual harassment and violence.

Stand with AAUW to keep Title IX strong.



6. Just 12 percent of engineers are women, and the number of women in computing has fallen from 35 percent in 1990 to just 26 percent today.

The numbers are especially low for Hispanic, black, and American Indian women. In less than 10 years, the United States will need 1.7 million more engineers and computing professionals; we simply can’t afford to ignore the perspectives or the talent of half the population.

Download our new playbook on actionable steps and data-driven strategies to promote gender equity in tech.


The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that doesn't mandate paid parental leave.

7. You know what’s a really scary thought? Having to choose between a paycheck and caring for a new child.

But that’s the reality for most Americans, 86 percent of whom lack access to paid family leave. Current laws have made some progress, but still leave many workers without access. It’s critical that Congress pass the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act and ensure that employees can afford to take the leave they need to care for themselves and their families.

Support caregivers. Tell your members of Congress to pass the FAMILY Act.


8. It takes Latinas almost an entire extra year of full-time, year-round work to be paid what the average non-Hispanic white man was paid in one year alone.

Latinas are paid just 54 percent of what non-Hispanic white men are paid, putting Latinas’ Equal Pay Day in early November. The gender pay gap is a complex problem that demands a multipronged solution. We need members of Congress to support a robust pay equity agenda. Women can’t wait any longer for a fair paycheck.

Tell your members of Congress that women of color deserve equal pay.


9. Only 32 Fortune 500 companies are led by women.

This is the highest proportion of female CEOs in the history of the Fortune 500 — and yet it represents just 6.4 percent of the U.S.’s biggest companies. How’s that for scary? Women, especially women of color, remain shut out of leadership opportunities. If we want parity, it’s imperative that each of us — individuals, employers, and policy makers alike — takes action to close the gender leadership gap.

Learn what you can do to close the gender leadership gap.


Women and men don't have equal rights under the U.S. Constitution.

10. Many Americans mistakenly believe that women and men have equal rights under the U.S. Constitution.

While the 14th Amendment explicitly states that men are guaranteed equality under law, it’s poignantly silent when it comes to women. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) would provide the constitutional guarantee that all women and men are truly equal under the law in areas such as sex discrimination in employment, Social Security, education, and more. We’ve waited more than 40 years for the ERA to be fully ratified. It’s time!

Take action to support the ERA.


11. Women hold nearly two-thirds of the outstanding student debt in the United States — more than $800 billion.

AAUW’s 2017 report Deeper in Debt: Women and Student Loans estimates that women hold almost two-thirds of the country’s $1.3 trillion student debt. This isn’t just a student problem — it’s a gender inequity problem, and it affects us all. As a nation we rely on women to add to and strengthen our economy. That can’t happen when women are struggling under mountains of student debt.

Act  now to support students by making college more affordable.


12. In the past few years, the House of Representatives has voted to repeal or alter the Affordable Care Act (ACA) more than 60 times.

Thanks to the ACA about 137 million Americans, including 55 million women, have access to preventive services without cost sharing. In the first year the law was implemented, the number of uninsured women living below the poverty line dropped by 20 percent. Repealing the ACA would undo years of progress in expanding health care access for women.

Protect the progress we’ve made in access to health care.

Take Action

AAUW Board Chair Patricia Fae Ho (far left) led hundreds of AAUW members in AAUW's very own delegation. Copyright David Hathcox for AAUW

Take a Stand in Two Minutes

Sign up for our email alerts to take action on gender equity issues.

intersectional feminism

Become an AAUW Member

Together we can lay the pipeline for success from the classroom to the boardroom and from the statehouse to the White House.

Hispanic women and Latinas are paid 54 cents for every dollar paid to white men in the United States.

Take Action to Close the Gender Pay Gap on Latinas’ Equal Pay Day 

Do your part in observance of Latinas’ Equal Pay Day.

1 Comment

  1. […] Reprinted with permission from the American Association of University Women […]

Join the Conversation

You must be logged in to post a comment.