Women in the United States

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This is about women in the United States today. For the history of women in the United States, please see History of women in the United States.

Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women[edit]

The United States has never ratified the U.N.'s Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, although it played an important role in drafting the treaty.[1][2] As of 2014, the United States is thus one of only seven nations which have not ratified it – also including Iran, Palau, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Tonga.[3]


As of 2014, women in the United States earn more post-secondary (college and graduate school) degrees than men do.[4]

Equal Rights Amendment[edit]

The United States has never ratified the Equal Rights Amendment.[5]

Gender equality ranking[edit]

As of 2014, the United States is ranked 20th in gender equality on the World Economic Forum's Gender Gap Index.[6]


As of 2013, the most recent year for which statistics are available, average age at first marriage in the United States is 27 for women and 29 for men.[7]

Child marriage, as defined by UNICEF, is observed in the United States. The UNICEF definition of child marriage includes couples who are formally married, or who live together as a sexually active couple in an informal union, with at least one member — usually the girl — being less than 18 years old. [8][9] The latter practice is more common in the United States, and it is officially called cohabitation. Laws regarding child marriage vary in the different states of the United States. Generally, children 16 and over may marry with parental consent, with the age of 18 being the minimum in all but two states to marry without parental consent. Those under 16 generally require a court order in addition to parental consent.[10]

Parental leave[edit]

The United States is the only high income country not to provide paid parental leave.[11]


Currently (August 2014), there are 79 female representatives in the United States, making up 18% of the U.S. House of Representatives.[12][13] There are also 20 female senators in the United States, making up 20% of the U.S. Senate.[13][14] There are currently 3 women in the United States presidential cabinet, including: Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, and Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. As for women in positions that have the status of Cabinet-rank there are also 3 women: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, United States Mission to the United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power, and Small Business Administration Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet.[15] Two of the three Deputy Chiefs of Staff are women, Anita Decker Breckenridge and Kristie Canegallo.[16] One of two Senior Advisors is also a woman, Valerie Jarrett.[16] The First Lady is Melania Trump and the Second Lady is Karen Pence.[17][18]


The United States has freedom of religion as a constitutionally guaranteed right. Christianity claims the largest number of adherents.[19][20] Not all religious denominations ordain women, and a few (most notably Roman Catholicism) oppose artificial contraception.[21][22] Many oppose abortion.[23]

Reproductive rights[edit]

Birth control is legal nationwide as of 2014.[24][25] Abortion is legal nationwide as of 2014; however, states are allowed to place regulations on abortion which fall short of prohibition after the first trimester of pregnancy.[26][27]


As of 2014, women are 46.5% of the total United States workforce.[28]

Sex discrimination has been outlawed in non-ministerial employment in the United States since 1964 nationwide; however, under a judicially created doctrine called the "ministerial exemption," religious organizations are immune from sex discrimination suits brought by "ministerial employees," a category that includes such religious roles as priests, imams or kosher supervisors.[29][30]

A woman's median salary in the United States has increased over time, although as of 2014 it is only 77% of man's median salary, a phenomenon often referred to as the Gender Pay Gap. (A woman's average salary is reported as 84% of a man's average salary.)[31][32] Whether this is due to discrimination is very hotly disputed, while economists and sociologists have provided evidence both supporting[33][34][35] and debunking[36][37] this assertion.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ U.S. drops the ball on women's rights - CNN.com
  2. ^ CEDAW 2014 - What's in It for U.S
  3. ^ CEDAW 2014 - About CEDAW
  4. ^ "Mitch McConnell says more women graduate from college than men do". PolitiFact. Retrieved 2014-07-25. 
  5. ^ Ending sex discrimination based on the Equal Rights Amendment
  6. ^ "India Slides, US Gains in Gender Equality Ranking". ABC News. 
  7. ^ Editors, The (2013-03-15). "Getting Married Later Is Great for College-Educated Women - Eleanor Barkhorn". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2014-07-25. 
  8. ^ Child Marriage UNICEF (2011)
  9. ^ Child Marriage ICRW (2010)
  10. ^ www.usmarriagelaws.com 
  11. ^ "In Paid Family Leave, U.S. Trails Most of the Globe". New York Times. February 22, 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-07. 
  12. ^ "Current numbers - all levels of office". Cawp.rutgers.edu. Retrieved 2014-07-25. 
  13. ^ a b "Members of Congress Questions and Answers | The Center On Congress at Indiana University". Congress.indiana.edu. 1984-01-01. Retrieved 2014-07-25. 
  14. ^ Terkel, Amanda (November 7, 2012). "Historic Number Of Women To Serve In Next Senate". Huffington Post. 
  15. ^ "The Cabinet | The White House". Whitehouse.gov. 2013-04-01. Retrieved 2014-07-25. 
  16. ^ a b "White House Staff | The White House". Whitehouse.gov. 2013-04-01. Retrieved 2014-07-25. 
  17. ^ "First Lady Michelle Obama | The White House". Whitehouse.gov. Retrieved 2014-07-25. 
  18. ^ "Dr. Jill Biden | The White House". Whitehouse.gov. Retrieved 2014-07-25. 
  19. ^ The second-largest religion in each state - The Washington Post
  20. ^ First Amendment | Constitution | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute
  21. ^ BBC - Religions - Christianity: Contraception
  22. ^ Catholic Bishop: Woman ‘Ordained’ as Priest Is Automatically Excommunicated | CNS News
  23. ^ Religious Groups’ Official Positions on Abortion | Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project
  24. ^ "Griswold v. Connecticut, The Impact of Legal Birth Control and the Challenges that Remain". Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Katharine Dexter McCormick Library. May 2000. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 
  25. ^ Dunlap, Bridgette (March 22, 2013). "Eisenstadt v. Baird: The 41st Anniversary of Legal Contraception for Single People". RH Reality Check. Retrieved May 25, 2012. 
  26. ^ "Roe v. Wade". Law.cornell.edu. Retrieved October 31, 2012. 
  27. ^ "Abortion Rate in 1994 Hit a 20-Year Low". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. January 5, 1997. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 
  28. ^ Aug 2014 Diversity Jobs Report: Women Make Up 46.5% of Workforce | WCC Blog
  29. ^ "Featured Document: The 19th Amendment". Archives.gov. Retrieved June 29, 2011. 
  30. ^ Caroline Mala Corbin (2007). "Above the Law? The Constitutionality of the Ministerial Exemption from Antidiscrimination Law". Fordham Law Review, Volume 75, Issue 4, Article 3. Retrieved May 25, 2012. 
  31. ^ Barack Obama, in State of the Union, says women make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns | PolitiFact
  32. ^ Fitzpatrick, Laura (April 20, 2010). "Why Do Women Still Earn Less Than Men?". Time. 
  33. ^ Men and Women of the Corporation: New Edition. "Kanter, ''Men and Women of the Corporation'', Basic Books, 1977". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2012-07-20. 
  34. ^ "Office of the White House, Council of Economic Advisors, 1998, IV. Discrimination". Clinton4.nara.gov. Retrieved 2012-07-20. 
  35. ^ "Levine, Report for Congress, "The Gender Gap and Pay Equity: Is Comparable Worth the Next Step?", Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, 2003" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-07-20. 
  36. ^ Sommers, Christina Hoff (February 1, 2014). "No, Women DON'T Make Less Money than Men". The Daily Beast. 
  37. ^ Biggs, Andrew G., Perry, Mark J. (April 7, 2014). "The '77 Cents on the Dollar' Myth About Women's Pay". The Wall Street Journal.