Folks are often asking me for various status-of-women stats.  As we get ready to usher in a new year, I thought I’d post some, right here right now.  Warning: they’re pretty dismal. Here’s hoping for improvement in 2009!


  • The US ranks 68th of 134 nations worldwide with only 16.8% women elected to the House of Representatives and 16.0% women elected to the Senate. (SOURCE)
  • The US ranks 27th in terms of women in power (measured as “top political and decision-making roles, including relative access to executive government and corporate posts”) – below Germany (11th), Britain (13th), France (15th), Lesotho (16th), Trinidad and Tobago (19th), South Africa (22nd), Argentina (24th) and Cuba (25th). (SOURCE: 2008 Global Gender Gap report by the World Economic Forum)
  • In 2008, 87 women serve in the U.S. Congress. Sixteen women serve in the Senate, and 71 women serve in the House. The number of women in statewide elective executive posts is 74, while the proportion of women in state legislatures is at 23.7 percent. SOURCE: Center for American Women in Politics)
  • Of those 87 women, 20 (or 23%) are women of color, all serving in the House.  Women of color constitute 3.9% of the total 535 members of Congress. No women of color serve in the US Senate. (SOURCE: Center for American Women in Politics)


  • Women currently make 78 cents to the male dollar.
  • Percentage of female Fortune 500 corporate officers: 15.4%
  • Percentage of female Fortune 500 board seats: 14.8%
  • Percentage of female Fortune 500 top earners: 6.7%
  • Percentage of female Fortune 500 CEOs: 2.4% (SOURCE for all above: Catalyst)
  • Number of female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies: 12
  • Number of female CEOs in Fortune 501-1000 companies: 10
  • Total female CEOS in Fortune 1000 companies: 22 (SOURCE for all above: Catalyst)
  • In Silicon Valley, for every 100 shares of stock options owned by a man, only one share is owned by a woman. (SOURCE)
  • Only 1% of the world’s assets are in the name of women. (SOURCE)

And there’s more — Poverty, Violence

  • Over half of the 37 million Americans living in poverty today are women. And women in America are further behind than women in other countries—the gap in poverty rates between men and women is wider in America than anywhere else in the Western world.
  • In 2007,13.8 percent of females were poor compared to 11.1 percent of men.
  • Elderly women are far more likely to be poor than elderly men. Thirteen percent of women over 75 years old are poor compared to 6 percent of men. (SOURCE)
  • 70% of people in abject poverty worldwide — living on less than $1 per day– are women. (SOURCE)


  • The United States is the only industrialized nation that has not ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
  • One in three women around the world will be raped, beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime.
  • Every day 4 women die in the US as a result of domestic violence.

On the upside, in education and business:

  • Women now graduate high school at rates higher than those of men — 87 percent for women; 85 percent for men. But on the other hand, a higher proportion of males in the general population had a bachelor’s degree or higher (28.9 percent compared with 26.5 percent of women).
  • There are 9.1 million women-owned businesses in the US. (SOURCE)
  • Women of color now own 1 in 5 women-owned firms and women of all colors are expanding into non-traditional industries. (SOURCE)
  • Women own 20% of firms with revenues exceeding $1 million.  (SOURCE)

Of course, there are many more, but I’ll stop there!