Skip to Main Content

News Releases

The sixth annual Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California

LOS ANGELES, March 16, 2017 — As L.A.’s only women’s university, Mount Saint Mary’s believes it has a responsibility to respond to the needs of the times. And the times are calling for strong, confident and resilient leaders.

On Thursday, March 23, Mount Saint Mary’s will convene a women’s leadership gathering that will showcase local and national experts dedicated to ensuring the physical, mental and spiritual health of women and girls everywhere. The event will celebrate the public release of our sixth annual Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California™, at the Skirball Cultural Center.

In order to fight for more opportunities for the advancement of women, we’ll need strong, healthy leaders. That’s why our March 23 event will include panels highlighting on how women can maximize their health, thanks to the power of health education, prevention and wellness.

Immediately following the morning’s program, Mount Saint Mary’s and Maria Shriver will co-host a special Architects of Change conversation and luncheon featuring Gwyneth Paltrow and Dr. Roberta Brinton, PhD, on “Women's Brains and Bodies: The Conversation We Should be Having.”

For full event details, visit Media are invited to attend the morning program, but the luncheon conversation is closed to the press. Contact for more info. Event speakers and their expertise are highlighted below.

Featured speakers

  • Ann McElaney-Johnson, PhD, president of Mount Saint Mary’s, will open the program and present findings from the 2017 Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California™.
  • Geena Davis, an Academy Award-winner and founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at Mount Saint Mary’s University.
  • Maria Shriver, an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning journalist and producer, will host an Architects of Change conversation and luncheon after the main program, featuring:
    • Gwyneth Paltrow, an Academy Award-winning actor and founder of the lifestyle and wellness site, goop.
    • Roberta Diaz Brinton, PhD, an internationally recognized leader in Alzheimer’s research and director of the Center for Innovation in Brain Science, University of Arizona Health Sciences.

 Jennifer Ferro, president of KCRW, will moderate a panel discussion, “Maximize Your Health,” featuring:

  • C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, director of the Barbara Streisand Women’s Heart Center, Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute (specialty: heart disease).
  • Susan Love, MD, chief visionary officer of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation (specialty: breast cancer).
  • Wendy Slusser, MD, associate vice provost for UCLA’s Healthy Campus Initiative (specialty: weight and diabetes).
  • Melissa Welch, MD, MPH, executive leadership, American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign (specialty: health for women, underserved populations.) 

Bryant Adibe, MD, chief wellness officer at Mount Saint Mary’s, will moderate a panel discussion, “The Power of Wellness,” featuring:

  • Mallika Chopra, founder & CEO of (specialty: stress management and life balance).
  • Kelly Dormandy, head strength and conditioning coach of the Los Angeles Sparks  (specialty: sports and fitness).
  • Paulette Lambert, director of nutrition for the California Health & Longevity Institute (specialty: healthy nutrition).
  • Tieraona Low Dog, MD, physician and fellowship director for the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine (specialty: integrative medicine).
  • Susan Samueli, philanthropist, founder, the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine, UC- Irvine (specialty: wellness philanthropy and integrative medicine)  

About the 2017 Report  
This year’s report includes research on gender equality and evaluates the status of California females in areas as diverse as education, economic wellbeing, leadership, media, business, health and more. The research is designed to enlighten the public and to guide leaders in developing and implementing solutions to the barriers that prevent women — who represent half of the state’s population — from playing a full role in the future of California.

A sampling of key findings from our 2017 research are highlighted below. To receive an embargoed copy of our full 2017 report in advance of March 23, contact 

2017 report highlights

  • Demographics: Latinas account for more than 38% of all California females — now the largest ethnicity in the state of California. Since 2010, however, the majority of foreign-born residents (59%) are emigrating from Asian countries. Overall, 28% of California’s women and girls are foreign-born, compared to 14% across the United States.  
  • Education: One in three California women (25+) have at least a bachelor’s degree, and women hold half of all post-secondary degrees in the state.
  • Employment & Earnings: More than 1.8 million California women are unemployed — a rate of 7%, higher than the 5.8% U.S. rate. For those employed, California women earn 86 cents on the dollar compared with California men, taking home $7,000 a year less.
  • Poverty: Sixteen percent of all California women and girls live in poverty (3 million); 41% of new babies born in California are born to women living in poverty.
  • Health: With increasing access to healthcare, 91% of California women are insured. However, California women tend to be less physically active than men: 35% of the state’s women do not get the recommended amount of physical activity each week.
  • Political Leadership: Women account for only 22% of seats in the California State Legislature, and that percentage is trending down.
  • Business Leadership: Women own 1.5 million businesses in California; 60% of them are owned by women of color (up from 45% a decade ago, in 2007). Among California’s 400 largest publicly-held companies, only 4% have a woman serving as CEO; among the top 25 companies, though, 44% have a female CEO.
  • Media Representation: Women continue to hold less than one in five of the key, behind-the-scenes occupations in the U.S. film industry. Only one in three of major on-screen characters in films is a woman; nearly three-fourths of these women are white.
  • Violence: As of Sept. 30, 2016, there were 5,748 confirmed cases of human trafficking in the United States; 18% of those reported cases (1,012) were in California.
  • Income Inequality: The top 1% of California wage earners have an income 29 times that of the bottom 99%. California has the seventh-largest inequality of income of any state in the nation, and it is also one of 20 states where the middle- and lower-income populations reported lower incomes in 2014 than they reported in 1990.

About the Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California™ 
First issued in 2012, the Report is one of the most authoritative and comprehensive compilations of current research focusing on the issues and trends affecting the more than 19.7 million women and girls who call California home. Its analysis includes demographics; educational attainment; employment and earnings; poverty; media; business leadership; political representation; physical and mental health; violence; and veterans. To learn more, visit

About Mount Saint Mary’s University 
Mount Saint Mary’s is the only women’s university in Los Angeles and one of the most diverse in the nation. The University is known nationally for its research on gender equity, its innovative health and science programs, and its commitment to community service. As a leading liberal arts institution, Mount Saint Mary’s provides year-round, flexible and online programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. Weekend, evening and graduate programs are offered to both women and men. Mount alums are engaged, active, global citizens who use their knowledge and skills to better themselves, their communities and the world.

Home  |  About MSMU  |  Communications & Marketing  |  News Releases