Challenge

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Achieving Gender Equality in the U.S.

In order to meet SDG 5 - Gender Equality - by 2030 we must empower all women and girls to live life to the fullest. This can only be accomplished by ensuring women and girls have equal access to all parts of society - from education, health care, and decent work opportunities, to representation in political and economic decision-making.
167M
People Impacted
$ 130B
Potential Funding
I have this challenge
the problem
Nature and Context

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5, Gender Equality, aims to empower all women and girls and achieve equal access to education, political representation, work opportunities, and more.

More than 51% of the U.S. population (166 million people) are women. Yet women make up only:

  • 26.4% of members of Congress

  • 16% (8) Governors

  • 5% of CEOs at Fortune 500 firms

  • 15% of the Leadership Positions at the Top 1,000 Nonprofit Organizations in the US

  • 34% of STEM degree recipients

Find more details below or use the Gender Equality Interactive Tool to learn more about key indicators.

Symptoms and Causes

Income and Work

In the U.S., men and women make up almost equal shares of the labor force 53% and 47% respectively (Catalyst). However, 63% of workers earning the federal minimum wage ($7.25) are women compared to only 5% of CEOs at Fortune 500 firms (where the average income in 2016 was $13.1 million) (inequality.org).

The Gender Pay Gap: American women earn less than men, on average, in all sectors - among full-time workers, women only earn 81 cents for every dollar a man earned in 2016 (inequality.org). While differences in occupation, hours worked, years of experience and education are all factors contributing to the difference in pay, they do not account for the entire gap (American Progress).

Discrimination based on gender, race, and/or ethnicity plays a significant role in directly decreasing women’s earnings from unequal pay, but also reflects the indirect effects of sex- and race-based systemic bias that influence the types of jobs women hold or the number of hours they work (American Progress).

Regardless of their employment status, women also do considerably more unpaid work related to managing a home and caring for other household members including children and the elderly (inequality.org).

Health and Hunger

  • The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides food and other assistance to pregnant women and mothers as an additional resource to the SNAP food stamp program. Historically WIC serves more than 1.5 million women each year, meaning only half of the eligible pregnant women receive WIC benefits (American Progress).

Education

Women comprise 56% of college students but:

  • owe nearly two-thirds of the $1.4 trillion in outstanding student loan debt (inequality.org).

  • only 34% of students graduating with a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) degree are women (World Bank)

Political Representation

In 2020 the U.S. reached a major milestone for women in politics with the election of Kamala Harris as Vice President. She is the first woman, and also the first woman of color, the first Black person, and the first South Asian person elected to this office.

A record number of women not only ran for office in the 2020 election, but more women than ever before are serving in elected positions at the state and federal level (Center for American Women and Politics). However, even with these trends, the U.S. is far from reaching equality in this area. In 2021 there are:

  • 141 women serving in the U.S. Congress; 24 in the Senate and 117 in the House. That's only 26.4% of members of Congress

  • 2,280 women serve in State legislatures; 560 in Senates and 1,720 in Houses/Assemblies (only 30.9% of positions)

  • 94 women are serving in statewide elective executive (30.3% of positions) - this includes the 8 serving as Governors (16%).

  • Only 9.2% (49) of members of Congress, 5.8% of the statewide elective executives, and 7.5% of state legislators are women of color.

Safety

A person's level of safety and security within society profoundly affects their economic status, health, civic engagement, and overall well-being. Unfortunately, violence and abuse affect women and girls across our communities, with many of these instances happening early in life (before age 25) and are preventable. According to the CDC's latest National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey:

  • 1 in 5 women experienced completed or attempted rape during her lifetime, 81.3% prior to age 25

  • 43.6% of women (nearly 52.2 million) experienced some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime

  • Nearly 1 in 6 women (16.0%, or 19.1 million) in the U.S. were victims of stalking

  • 1 in 4 women experienced violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner

Bullying and teen dating violence is also a serious concern for girls - the latest Status of Women in the States Report found an estimated 21% of girls (compared to 8.5% of boys) said they had been bullied in the past 12 months through electronic means.

COVID-19

Intersectionality

Gender is not the only characteristic that leads to inequalities. It's important to recognize that women are not a singular group whose experiences and challenges are all the same. We need to understand and consider intersectionality - how a person's characteristics interact with each other to have additive effects on their experiences - in order to better understand these challenges.

An example of this is the gender pay gap. While white women only make 82 cents for every dollar a white man makes, Black women only make 62 cents (American Progress).

the impact
Economic Impact

The Gender Pay Gap leads to wage differences totalling more than $799 billion annually (Equitable Growth)

Both pension plan and Social Security payouts are partially determined by past earnings (inequality.org). Therefore the gender pay gap means women not only earn less over their career but also end up with fewer post-retirement resources.

Households led by single women with children had a poverty rate of 35.6%, more than twice the rate for households led by single men with children (17.3%) (inequality.org). This is especially significant, as households are much more likely to be led by a single mother than a single father (Equitable Growth).

Women’s earnings also support economic growth.

If women had not increased their work hours since 1979, GDP in 2012 would have been 11% lower-resulting in $1.7 trillion less in output. (Equitable Growth).

Success Metrics

From sdg-tracker.org:

  • The proportion of women and girls over 15 subjected to physical, sexual, or psychological violence by a current or former intimate partner or another person.

  • The amount of time spent on unpaid domestic and care work by women vs men.

  • The proportion of seats held by women in federal, state, and local governments.

  • The percentage of women in executive and other managerial positions.

  • Ease of access to sexual and reproductive health care, information, and education.

  • Graduation rates from high school and higher education

  • The proportion of women receiving degrees and working in STEM and other fields.

who benefits from solving this problem
Organization Types
  • Federal, State, and local governments

  • Gender Equality-related nonprofits, advocacy, and research

  • Reproductive health and family planning

  • General practice and specialty healthcare

  • Education institutions

Stakeholders
  • Policymakers at the Federal, State, and local levels

  • Employers in all sectors

  • Gender Equality focused nonprofit organizations

  • Reproductive health and family planning organizations

  • K-12 schools and higher education institutions

  • Over half of the U.S. population and their families

financial insights
Current Funding

According to data aggregated by X4Impact from the Security and Exchange Commission filings, since Q1 of 2019, $127M of private funding has been invested in companies working to create tech-based solutions addressing gender inequality in the U.S.

In addition to that, there are government grants and the $34.5B in income reported by nonprofits working to reach gender equality.

Potential Solution Funding

Based on data from over 600,000 tax returns filed by nonprofits in the US (data via X4Impact), on an average year, over 11,000 nonprofit organizations deploy $34.5B in the US to address gender equality-related issues.

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Data Sources
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