Mount Saint Mary’s is known nationally for its research on gender equity; the University also partners with groups across California to create local-level gendered research. Below are links to some of our recent collaborations:
Interested in creating a Report on the Status of Women and Girls for your own community? Contact Kimberly Kenny, assistant vice president of institutional advancement: firstname.lastname@example.org or 213.477.2700.
Network, Learn, and Take Action!Join Mount Saint Mary’s University at our 6th Annual Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California™! The 2017 Report will have a unique focus on health and wellness, and the public release of the report will showcase local and national leaders dedicated to ensuring the physical, mental and spiritual health of women and girls everywhere.
DateThursday, March 23, 2017
Time9 to 10 a.m. Networking Breakfast and Health & Wellness Expo10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Program12:15 to 1:30 p.m. VIP Lunch
LocationSkirball Cultural Center2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd.Los Angeles, CA 90049
Registration Registration will be open in October. The ticket price includes parking, continental breakfast, and expo.
Early registration price until February 9, 2017* General Public: $25* / $30 Students: $20* / $25 MSMU Faculty, Staff and Students: FreeVIP Lunch: *$150 / $200
For more information and sponsorship opportunities, contact Heather Schraeder, director of special events and public programs, at email@example.com or 213.477.2761.
For media inquiries, contact Phillip Jordan, manager of communications and marketing, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 213.477.2506.
Mount Saint Mary’s is committed to ensuring that women are afforded equal opportunities to engage in society. As a women’s university, we are uniquely positioned to create this type of publication, which is compiled annually by our faculty. We are honored that this research is used by community advocates, educators and legislators to effect change across California and beyond.
To read the 2016 research, click on the download buttons, or view the content by topic below.
California is the nation’s most populous state with 12% of the U.S. population residing here.
California's women of color have increased from 56% of its female population in 2005 to 62% in 2014.
In 2014, Latinas and whites of non-Hispanic origin each comprise 38% of the female population in California. For
comparison, Latinas and white women account for 17% and 62% of the national population.4 The increase in women
of color in California is driven in large part by the increase in Latina and Asian-American populations; the proportion of
African-American women has remained largely constant since 2005.
The United States and California are becoming more multi-racial. Across the U.S., California has the largest number of
residents identifying with two or more races5 and this number has increased at a statistically significant rate over the past
decade (Figure 2).
The face of the California woman may be of any race, but is increasingly of
Hispanic origin. In 2005, 44% of the female population was white (not of
Hispanic origin) and 35% identified as Latina; in 2014, the white and Latina
populations each comprise 38% of the female population. Based on the trend
of increasing women of color in the state, Latinas are poised to become the
largest ethnic group in California in the next year.
Compared with the nation, California women are younger (median age of 37.1 years versus 39.0 years); they are slightly
more likely to be under 18 years and less likely to be over 65 years of age.
Meanwhile, Latinas remain the youngest female ethnic group in California (Figure 4).
The median age of California’s women has been steadily increasing over
the past decade. In 2006, the median age was 35.5 years; in 2012 it
was 36.7 years and in 2014, the median age is just over 37 years.11 With
Latinas poised to become the majority of California’s female population,
this trend toward increasing median age may not continue. In 2014,
Latinas, who collectively have a high birth rate, are the youngest group of
women with a median age of 29 years: they are more likely to be under
18 years of age, and are less likely to be over 65.
Females comprise 50% of all Californians, but women comprise the majority of older residents. This trend is seen across
the United States.
Since women constitute a larger proportion of the older population, more women than men will be affected by programs
and services for the elderly.
In California, 41% of women are married and living with their spouses; an additional 6% are married, but separated from
their spouses; and a third of California women have never been married. Nearly one in five California women (19%) are
either widowed or divorced.14 These percentages mirror U.S. women as a whole.
The proportion of California women married and living with their
spouse has decreased from 43% in 2006 to 41% in 2014, while the
percentage of women who have never married has increased from
30% in 2006 to 33% in 2014. The number of California women who
are either widowed or divorced has remained essentially constant.
In 2014, 5% of all women across the nation, between the ages of 15 and 50 years, gave birth. These statistics hold true in
California, where nearly a half million (472,565) women gave birth.
While Latinas comprise 38% of females in California, nearly half, or 47%, of women giving birth are Latina. White women,
who also represent 38% of California’s females, account for 29% of mothers giving birth. The proportion of Asian
American and African-American women giving birth is the same percentage as their representation in California’s female
population (15% and 6%, respectively).17 These statistics are unchanged from 2013.
Of the California women giving birth in 2014, a third (33%) were single: 58% of African-American women, 15% of Asian-
American women, 42% of Latinas and 22% of white women giving birth were single.
In terms of education, 37% of birthing mothers have attained a high school degree or less, and 32% have some college
education (including associate’s degrees). Women with a bachelor’s degree account for 20% of births, while those with
graduate or professional degrees account for the remaining 11%.
Twenty-seven percent (or 10.5 million) of California’s population report being foreign-born, compared with 13% of the
In our 2012 Report, it was noted that 28% of California
females were foreign-born. Today, the state’s multi-cultural
diversity continues to flourish, as the most recent data
indicate that 36% of California females are foreign-born.
The composition of California’s immigrants has changed over the decades. Since 2010, the majority of immigrants
have arrived from Asian countries; prior to the turn of the century, the majority emigrated from Latin America. Female
immigrants outnumber males in California (52% vs. 48%).
These statistics represent immigrants for whom there are recorded numbers; they do not include undocumented
immigrants who are not generally counted in surveys. According to the Pew Research Center, there were over 11 million
undocumented immigrants in the United States in 2014; this undocumented population has remained essentially stable
for five years and currently makes up 3.5% of the nation’s population.
The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) estimates that in 2013 2.67 million undocumented immigrants resided in
California, making up slightly more than 6% of the state’s population.25 Using several information sources, PPIC suggests
that more than two-thirds of undocumented immigrants are born in Mexico.
If estimates are correct, slightly more than 9% of California’s labor force is comprised of undocumented immigrants;
these workers are engaged primarily in farming, construction, production, services and transportation/materials moving
More than 3 million girls are enrolled in California’s K–12 public schools, and 85% of these graduate in a timely fashion.
Importantly, nearly half of girls graduating from high school have successfully passed all courses required for admission
into the University of California or California State University. While women comprise over half of those enrolled in
university programs, less than 20% of degrees in computer/information science and engineering go to women.
In the 2014–2015 school year, 6.2 million students were enrolled in California public K–12 schools. Over the past two
decades these figures have remained roughly constant, peaking at 6.3 million between 2003 and 2008.
The K–12 California public school system educates a diverse group of students.
Of the roughly 3 million girls in California’s K–12 public schools in 2014–15, over half are Latina (54%). White students
represent 24% and African Americans 6% of the student population; Asian Americans comprise 9% of school girls.
In 2002–2003, 45% of students were Latina, 34% were white, 8% were
African American and 8% were Asian American. In 2014–2015, the
percentage of Latinas in California’s K–12 public schools has increased
to 54%; white and African-American girls have decreased to 24% and
6%, respectively. The proportion of Asian Americans has held relatively
constant over the past decade at 8–9%.
In 2013–2014, the percentage of girls graduating from California public high schools in four years continues to be greater
than that for boys: 85% of girls versus 77% of boys.30 The graduation rate varies by race/ethnicity among girls, with white
and Asian-American students at, or above, 90%. In contrast, while there have been steady improvements, the lowest
graduation rates are among Latinas (81%), Alaska Native/Native Americans (75%) and African Americans (74%).
Graduation rates of girls as a whole have increased
every year since 2009; the greatest driver in this increase
is the surge in graduation rate of Latinas, which has
increased over this time period by eight percentage points.
Entrance requirements for the two largest university systems in the state — the University of California (UC) and the
California State University (CSU) systems — require more high school coursework than the state-mandated requirements
for a high school diploma. Entrance into either UC or CSU requires a minimum of 15 courses (the state mandates 13 for
graduation), with additional work to include a fourth year of English and a third year in mathematics through intermediate
Along with increasing high school graduation rates, the proportion of graduates who complete all courses required
for admission to UC and/or CSU is increasing. In 2013–2014, 42% of all high school graduates had completed courses
required for entrance into these two public systems of higher education in California. A greater percentage of girls than
boys graduate with all courses required for entrance: in 2013–2014, these percentages are 47% and 37%, respectively.
In 2002–2003, only 34% of students graduated from high school with prerequisite
courses for entering a 4-year baccalaureate program; in 2013–2014
that percentage has risen to 42%. The percentage of girls completing all courses
for UC or CSU entrance over this same time period has risen from 37% to 47%,
meaning that nearly half of all girls graduating from high school may have the
UC or CSU option of progressing directly to baccalaureate study.
California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP). In 2015, the California Department of Education,
through its CAASPP program, began a new assessment to measure how well students reach standards set for
mathematics and the English Language Arts.35 In 2015, 11th graders were tested in English Language Arts/Literacy (ELA)
and Mathematics. In the ELA tests, girls outperformed boys with a greater percentage both meeting and exceeding the
Girls tested almost as well as boys on the new mathematics test. When combining the percentages for students who
either met or exceeded the new mathematics standards, the proportion of girls was the same as for boys: 29%.
The new CAASPP tests are too different from the previous STAR Tests to make reliable comparisons to performances in
previous years.37 The 2015 results should serve as a benchmark for the coming years.
The Advanced Placement (AP) examinations, conducted by the College Board, test both private and public high school
students in specified subject matter at the college level. The score range on each AP examination is 1–5, with 3 being the
minimum score accepted for college credit. In 2015, 55% of all AP exams in California were taken by girls; the average
score for girls across all subjects was 2.79 and the average score for boys was 2.96.
Within specific content areas, participation rates and performance vary by gender. Consistent with previous years, girls
participate more and outperform boys in many of the foreign language exams. Girls tend to participate less and perform
less well than boys on examinations in calculus and the physical sciences.
More California girls than boys take AP tests in biology, environmental science and statistics, while markedly fewer take
AP examinations in physics and computer science.
Between 2003 and 2015, the difference is decreasing between boys’
and girls’ test scores in several STEM areas. Calculus exams are showing
a steady narrowing of the gap. Biology, chemistry and environmental
AP exams also show promise of a narrowing gender performance gap.
However, caution must be used in comparing test performance over
time as the structure and nature of these tests occasionally change.
In 2013–2014, there were 1.7 million California women enrolled in university undergraduate and graduate programs; this
represents 54% of all university students.
Across the state, more than one in five (22%) women and men 25 years and over have had some college work (no
degree); one in five (20%) has attained a four-year college degree and more than one in 10 (12%) persons have attained
a professional or graduate degree. These figures roughly mirror the nationwide statistics.
In California, 53% of all undergraduate college degrees (including associate’s degrees) are held by women. At the postgraduate
level, 52% of master’s degrees, 44% of professional degrees and 39% of doctorates are held by women. While
women hold a majority of the degrees at the associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s levels, they hold fewer than half of the
professional and doctorate degrees.
In 2006, women held 53% of bachelor’s degrees; that number
dipped slightly to 52% in 2014. However, in 2006, women held
40% of professional school degrees, compared with 44% in 2014.
Women held 34% of doctorates in 2006 compared with 39% in 2014.
Focusing on bachelor’s degrees, the percentage of degrees held by women varies widely by the field of study.
Men 25 years and over hold a majority of the degrees in the sciences (natural and social sciences are included) and
engineering (60%) as well as business (54%). On the other hand, more than three-quarters of the bachelor’s degrees in
education (76%) are held by women; nearly 60% of degrees in arts/humanities and other majors (all taken together) are
held by women.
Generational differences are emerging in some areas, however. Breaking down the degrees held by women and men into
different age groups reveals that:
These data suggest that the gender gaps in these baccalaureate fields are narrowing, especially among younger
generations. This is further supported by statistics on degrees currently being conferred on women by postsecondary
institutions throughout the nation.
On the other hand, the gender gaps in degrees in the fields of education and arts, etc., do not show age shifts. In
particular, roughly three-quarters (76%) or more of the degrees in education continue to be held by younger women.
Women continue to dominate the field of education, while they are vastly underrepresented in computer/information
science and engineering.
Over the past nearly two decades, little or no change has been
observed in altering the gender gap in bachelor’s degrees
awarded in the fields of education, where women earn more
than three-quarters of degrees. In contrast, women make up
only one-quarter to one-third of all degrees in the STEM fields.
The proportion of bachelor’s degrees awarded to women has increased in each field above except two: the proportion
of degrees going to women in computer/information science and mathematics/statistics have decreased between 1995–
1996 and 2010–2011. Women continue to be vastly underrepresented in the engineering/engineering technologies
and computer/information science fields where they earn less than one in five bachelor’s degrees awarded. Even more
noteworthy is that women earn a smaller proportion of the degrees in computer/information science today than they did
The gender wage gap persists in California. In 2014, the median earnings of full-time working women was 84% that of
men. In 2015, the state of California passed The Fair Pay Act aimed at ending gendered discriminatory pay practices and
empowering employees to use the legal system to rectify past gender pay inequity.
In the fields of healthcare, sales and office occupations, education and law, women are over represented in the lower paying
occupations and underrepresented in higher-paying positions. Across computer, engineering and science
occupations studied, men represent over 60% of employees.
California numbers show 11% fewer employed women than men, a difference that is unchanged since 2013. The
unemployment rate in California is almost equal between genders, at approximately 8%, and is down by approximately
1% from 2013 numbers. When compared with the U.S., California women’s unemployment rate is slightly higher.
Preliminary data for 2015 indicate that California’s unemployment rate for women is 6.3%, compared with a national rate
In 2011, the unemployment rate of California women was near its
10-year high of 11%; in 2014 that number had decreased to 8%.
While the female unemployment rate nationally and in the state of
California continues to drop from its peak, the unemployment rate
has not returned to pre-recession levels prior to 2008 in either the
state of California or the nation.
In married couple families, both parents are likely to work outside the home. When only one parent works outside the
home, it is much less likely to be the mother.
Nearly one-third (31%) of California’s families with children under the age of 18 years are single-parent households;
72% of these households are headed by women. Fifty-seven percent of single parents are working mothers.
At both the national and state level, women with children under the age of 6 are unemployed at a higher rate than the
female population as a whole. In California, women with children under the age of 6 (Census estimate of 1,806,777
women) have an unemployment rate of nearly 10%, compared with the total unemployment rate for females of 8%.
When looking at broad occupational categories within the state, women represent a majority of employees in three areas:
healthcare practitioner and technical operations; sales and office occupations; and education, legal, community service,
arts and media occupations. The lowest percentage of female employees is among the natural resources, construction
and maintenance occupations.
In the five-year history of this Report, the percentage of women in
each occupational category has remained largely unchanged. Since
the 2012 Report on the Status of Women and Girls,59 the percentage
of women in “computer, engineering and science” occupations has
decreased by one percentage point (from 24% to 23%), as has the
percentage of women in “education, legal, community service, arts
and media” and in “service” occupations.
Within these broad occupational categories, traditional gender roles in more specific occupations continue.
An overwhelming percentage (83%) of California’s registered nurses are women, while a majority of the physicians and
surgeons (65%) are men.
In “Sales and office occupations,” men hold the majority of supervisory positions, while women hold the majority of
“Education, legal, community service, arts and media” is a broad occupational cluster. In education occupations, women
are more likely to be K–12 teachers than are men. In legal occupations, women are more likely to serve as legal support
workers than are men, and less likely than men to be lawyers and judges.
Approximately eight in 10 employees holding positions of software developer, database and systems administrators,
network architects and engineers are men. Women comprise only a third of all computer and information research
scientists and analysts. These findings are largely unchanged from 2010; the gender composition of California’s STEM
workforce has not significantly changed.
The technology field offers lucrative salaries, generous employee benefits, and is still growing in the state of California.
Within California, “STEM jobs are expected to grow 21.4% over the next five years, versus a 10.4% growth in jobs overall,
and business leaders say they do not have enough skilled workers to fill these jobs.”
In 2014, 14 major technology firms located in California released their gender employment data.66 Female employees
were the minority in every company, with Pandora scoring the best with a 49% female workforce and Intel scoring the
worst with a 23% female workforce. Across all companies, women were the minority of workers employed in leadership
and technical positions.
In 2015, the California Legislature (ACR-17 Women and Girls in STEM Week) and the California State Superintendent of
Public Instruction created the first Women and Girls in STEM Week in California (April 5–11) to encourage women and
girls to explore the STEM fields.
The gender wage gap for full-time, year-round workers in California is 84 cents on the dollar, with California women on
average earning approximately $8,000 a year less in compensation. The gender wage gap in California is less than the
national wage gap, which was 79 cents on the dollar.
Women of color are particularly hard hit by wage inequities: they earn less than white women and markedly less than white males. In 2014, the median earnings of white males working full-time were $70,765.75.
White women who work full time earn 77% of their white male counterparts. Women of color earn considerably less: in
particular, the median earnings of full-time working Latinas are less than half (42%) of white male earnings.
The gender wage gap between full-time working women and men may
be closing, but progress is slow. In 2006, California women working fulltime,
year-round earned 82% of what men earned and in 2014 that has
increased to 84%. Relative to what white men earned in 2006: white
women earned 74% (77% in 2014), Asian-American women earned 69%
(72% in 2014), African-American women earned 61% (a slight decrease
to 60% in 2014) and Latinas earned 42% (constant at 42% in 2014).
Women earn less than men in every occupational cluster. The largest wage gap exists in natural resources, construction
and maintenance, where women only earn 58 cents on the dollar to men.74 The greatest gender wage parity among
these occupational clusters is earned in sales and office occupations, where women earn 83 cents on the dollar earned by
men. Within the management, business, science and arts category, the computer, engineering and science occupations
and healthcare practitioners offer the smallest wage gaps.75
Upon further examination, within each of the first four broad occupational clusters, there are subcategories (more specific
occupations) with salaries nearly at parity.
Of the more specific occupations listed in Figure 28, women comprise the majority of healthcare support, office and
administrative support, and community and social services positions.
On Oct. 6, 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed the nation’s strongest equal pay bill into law in California.77 California
Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson’s Fair Pay Act will impact fairness in pay between genders in three key ways:
Several of these jobs with projected growth have a predominantly female workforce: personal care aides, waiters/
waitresses and cashiers; however, these jobs pay at or near minimum wage. On the other hand, nursing — a field
also traditionally dominated by women — is the second-highest paying job among those with the greatest
employment potential.80 California also releases data on the fastest-growing occupations statewide. These positions
might not make the list of most job openings statewide, but they demonstrate the greatest rates of growth across
the state. Between 2012-2022, several STEM occupations are projected to be among these 100 fastest-growing
occupations in California: biomedical engineers (46% growth over this time period); soil and plant scientists (35% growth);
environmental scientists and specialists (30% growth); biochemists and biophysicists (27% growth); computer systems
analysts (27% growth); environmental engineers (25% growth); software developers and systems software (24% growth);
and computer network architects (24% growth).
There are two initiatives proposed for the California ballot this fall that would impact the earnings of Californians who
earn minimum-wage salaries. Each initiative proposes raising California’s minimum wage to $15.
Measure 15-0032, referred to as The Fair Wage Act of 2016, would increase California’s minimum hourly wage to $15
by 2021. Measure 15-0105, referred to as the Raise California’s Wage and Paid Sick Days Act of 2016, would increase
California’s minimum hourly wage to $15 by 2020. The statewide minimum wage is currently set at $10 per hour. If these
measures meet the requirements for inclusion on the California ballot this fall, they would be voted on Nov. 8, 2016.
With more than 6.3 million Californians living with incomes below the federal poverty level,83 California’s poverty rate is
higher than that of the nation as a whole. These millions of people reflect a concerning increase in poverty rate (from 12%
to 15.8%) over the last decade, excluding a peak at 16.9% in 2011.
In California, single-woman families (households headed by women with no spouse present) are more likely than married
households to live in poverty. Among single-woman households, poverty rates vary depending on the racial or ethnic
makeup of the home.
Social safety net programs can have a significant impact in reducing the percentage of Californians living in poverty,
particularly women and children.
The 2015 U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Health and Human Services84 federal poverty level (FPL) annual
The U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Health and Human Services measure poverty based on pre-tax income;
non-cash benefits (e.g., food stamps and housing subsides) are not counted. Geographic adjustments in the FPL for
differences in the cost of living, including high housing costs, are also not included.
More than 6 million Californians (16%) live below the federal poverty level (FPL): 18% of females live below the FPL and
15% of males.
While there is a gender inequality with respect to poverty levels, there continues to be a greater inequality among
females across ethnic and racial groups.
While the average of all California females living below the poverty level is 18%, at least one out of every four African-
American females (27%), Alaska Native/Native American females (26%) and Latinas (25%) residing in California live in
Twelve percent of all families live in poverty. For families with children under the age of 18 years, this number increases to
18%. Single-mother households are hit particularly hard. In 2014, 38% of single-mother households with children under
the age of 18 years live in poverty. In 2010, 35% of single-mother households with children under the age of 18 years lived
Twenty-eight percent of all California family households headed by single women (regardless of the presence of children)
live in poverty. There is a significant disparity in poverty rates across racial and ethnic groups.
Relative to 2010, 26% of all households headed by women (no spouse
present) lived in poverty compared with 28% in 2014. The greatest
shifts among racial lines have been among households headed by
African-American women (30% in poverty in 2010 compared with 34%
in 2014) and those headed by Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander women
(24% in 2010 to 29% in 2014). The poverty rates of all other single women
family households have increased by 1% or less.
Education is one factor that works against poverty. As educational attainment increases, the percentage of individuals and
families living in poverty (below the FPL) decreases.
As is the case for individuals, the percentage of families living in poverty (below the FPL) drastically decreases when the
head of the family has a minimum of a high school degree or equivalent (GED).92 For households headed by a single
woman, the likelihood of living in poverty is nearly one in two (48%) when the woman lacks a high school degree. That
percentage drops to 32% for households headed by a single woman with a high school degree.
A new poverty measure called the California Poverty Measure (CPM), developed jointly by the Public Policy Institute of
California and the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, measures the role need-based programs have in the lives
of families by combining a family’s annual cash income — including government benefits — with the tax obligations, tax
credits and in-kind benefits families receive, while subtracting major nondiscretionary expenses.
Social “Safety Net” programs are need-based and intended to improve the lives of Californians living in poverty.
These programs supplement the resources that families have available. They include: CalFresh (California’s food stamp
program), CalWORKs (California’s cash assistance program), the federal Earned Income Tax Credit, federal housing
subsidies and school lunch programs.
These safety net programs have reduced the poverty rates for all affected Californians: For the elderly, the poverty rate,
as measured by the CPM, is reduced by over half (58%) from 19.7% to just over 8%. The effect of these programs on the
deep poverty rate (those who are living at 50% or less of the CPM) is even more substantial. The deep poverty rate for
Californians is reduced by 68%, with the reduction for the elderly at over 85%.
California is one of the largest producers of media in the nation in terms of television shows and films. When women
occupy behind-the-scenes roles as directors, writers or producers, the presence of additional women behind the scenes
— and on screen — increases. However, for over 15 years, women have occupied fewer than one in five of these critical
roles in the U.S. film industry.95 In recent years, women have held fewer than one in four of these roles in the television
industry.96 Compared with men, women have fewer lead roles on screen, their portrayals are limited in terms of
professional status, they are younger in age, and more sexualized in appearance compared with male characters.
The scarcity of women behind-the-scenes in filmmaking is a global phenomenon, with fewer than 25% of all content creating
positions held by women.97 According to a global study of popular films across 11 countries, females comprised
7% of directors, 19.7% of writers and 22.7% of producers.98 In the U.S., women held 26% of the key positions for feature length
independent films in the top festival circuits,99 and comprised 17% of individuals employed on the top 250 films.100
These numbers are slightly better in the top 700 films and independent movies.
In film, women are employed in greatest proportion as producers, with a smaller proportion occupying the role of writer
or director. A study of films in the Sundance Film Festival from 2002–2014 showed that the director gender gap is the
largest in the realm of top-grossing films and theatrical distributions: at the highest platform of distribution (above 250
screens) male directors outnumber female directors 6-to-1.102 For the 250 top films, these figures represent a slight
increase in every occupation from 2013 films (except for producers), and a slight decrease in participation from 1998.
However, it is important to note the lack of women in the top 250 films screening in 2014:
Similar to film, the major role played by women behind the scenes in television remains that of producer; women are least
represented among directors of photography.
Since 1997, the growth in percentage of women in key
behind-the-scenes positions in the television industry has
increased slowly: currently women occupy 27% of key
positions in network programs compared with 21% in 1997.
Women are often absent in top-grossing films. In 2014, women were
featured as the female protagonist in 12% of films; this represents a
decrease compared with 2002, when the rate was 16%. In addition,
in 2014, 29% of all major characters and 30% of all speaking characters
in U.S. films were female.
Female characters continue to be sexualized to a greater degree than their male counterparts. Among the 100 top grossing
films in 2014, women are nearly three times as likely as men to appear partially or fully nude in movies (26% and
9%, respectively).107 The work status of female characters is also less often known than for male characters. Although
women make up 46% of workers in the U.S., 23% of characters holding a job in film were females.108 Female characters
were much more likely to be identified in a personal-life role (e.g., as wife or mother) than males (58% and 31%,
In addition, a recent global study of popular films across 11 countries found that women are nearly shut out of sports professions
when it comes to representation on screen. In the survey, commissioned by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender
in Media at Mount Saint Mary’s University, 122 characters were classified as athletes, coaches or sports announcers. Of
those 122 roles, women portrayed just five characters, while men accounted for the other 117.
Female characters comprised 42% of all speaking roles in broadcast television and 40% of all major characters on
broadcast, cable and Netflix programs.
The majority of female television characters were in their 20s and 30s (60%) and the majority of male characters were
in their 30s and 40s (55%). Females are generally not portrayed in career roles or at work; when their working status
is known, they have rarely been depicted as professionals or leaders. More female characters (35%) had an unknown
occupational status compared with men (24%).
Across broadcast, cable and Netflix programming as well as movies, women of color are vastly underrepresented on
screen. The overwhelming majority (over 74%) of female human characters in film and television are white. African-
American women represent less than 15% of female characters on screen, while Asian-American women and Latinas
occupy 4% of roles.
The gender gaps in the film and television industries are well documented. The presence of women behind the scenes
and in front of the screen increases when women occupy key roles as producer, director or creator.
Films with women executive producers and directors employ a greater number of women in other key behind-the-scenes
roles than films with exclusively male counterparts.115 In film, when men solely occupy director and producer roles, 7–15%
of projects have women writers, editors and directors. In comparison, when one or more women occupy these same
roles, 52% of directors hire female writers and 35% hire female editors; with women producers, over 20% of projects have
women writers, directors and producers.
The same trend is present in television with female executive producers and show creators hiring a substantially higher
percentage of women editors and directors.116 When men exclusively hold executive producer or creator roles, 6–15% of
writers, editors and director roles go to women. When one or more women occupy these same roles, the percentages
jump to 15% to 50%.
The most dramatic impact in the film industry of having one or more women in key behind-the-scene roles is the increase
in the percentage of female protagonists from 4% to 39%.118 While women in key behind-the-scene roles in the television
industry does not produce such a dramatic change, there is an increase in the proportion of female major characters.
The 2014 elections sent a record-breaking number of women to the 114th U.S. Congress, bringing the total female
membership in both houses to over 100 for the first time in United States history. However, in 2015 the California
Legislature had the fewest number of women serving since 1998. Despite lagging parity in representation, California
women legislators have taken the lead in achieving notable gains with a series of bills that benefit the lives of women
and their families.
For the first time in American history, the number of women in the 2015 Congress exceeded 100. However, that
achievement is tempered by the knowledge that those women still represent only 19.4% of the 535-seat U.S. Congress.
This includes California senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. Only 19 of 53 (35.8%) members of the House from
California were women. Following the 2014 midterm election, California sent one additional woman to Washington, D.C.
In the 2014 California midterm election, 25 female candidates ran for 24 Congressional seats. Of the female candidates
in California Congressional races, all 17 female incumbents were reelected, all five female candidates who challenged
incumbents were defeated and two of three female candidates won open seat elections.
Thirteen women ran for statewide executive office in the primary, but only three were listed in the general election.
Analysis of the 2014 California election data shows that male candidates significantly outnumber female candidates in
primary and general elections.
Women hold two of the eight elected statewide positions. In the primary election, 25% of fifty-three statewide
primary candidates were women (two Republican, three Democrat and eight other). In the general election, 19% of
sixteen statewide candidates were women (one Republican, two Democrat). Two women were elected to the Board of
Equalization (which has four districts); with the addition of Betty Yee as controller, the board has a female majority.
In 2014 prior to midterm elections, California was ranked 17th among the states in women’s representation in state
legislatures; in 2015, California ranks 20th.
Women won five of the 20 California State Senate races in 2014. In the general election, 23% of the State Senate
candidates were women (four Republican, five Democrat). Women won 18 of the 80 California State Assembly races in
2014. In the general election, 22% of the State Assembly candidates were women (17 Republican, 18 Democrat).
As of 2015, the California Legislature has the fewest number of women since 1998: 31 women make up 25.8% of the
legislative body. The record for women’s representation in the California Assembly was 25 assemblywomen — out of 80
members total — in 2005-2006, compared with 19 assemblywomen following the 2014 midterm elections. The record for
women’s representation in the California Senate was 13 women senators in 2004 — out of 40 members total — compared
with 12 women senators following the 2014 midterm elections. Women’s representation in the California state legislature
peaked in 2004 at 31% female in both houses.
However, women have achieved important leadership positions in the California Legislature. In 2014, for the first time,
a chamber of the California state legislature was led by a woman on both sides of the aisle: Speaker of the Assembly
Toni Atkins and Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway, who was the first female Assembly Republican Leader in
30 years.127 Kristin Olsen succeeded Conway in 2014,128 and Chad Mayes took over the role in January 2016.129 In the
California Senate, a woman, Jean Fuller, serves as the Republican Minority Leader, and a woman, Lois Wolk, serves as the
Democrat’s Majority Whip.
In the last quarter of the 1900s, women made significant advances
in terms of their presence in the California state legislature; that
trend has disappeared and slightly reversed since 2005:
For national comparison, in 1975-1977, there were 19 women serving
in the U.S. Congress (a 535-member body). The current 2015-2017 U.S.
Congress includes 104 women.
Although having the lowest representation of women in 17 years, 2014–2015 were productive legislative years in terms of
passing laws which directly benefited women.
Of these bills, some of the most notable were sponsored by women legislators.
The 2016 election presents critical challenges and opportunities for women’s representation in state and national politics.
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer will be retiring in 2016, creating an open seat election. In the California State Legislature,
several female representatives will be termed out of office in 2016, including the female Speaker of the Assembly, Toni
Atkins. Three female State Senators and five female Assembly members will be termed out in 2016.
In the 2014 midterm election, men outnumbered women candidates on the primary ballot by a factor of two or more.
Analysis has shown that women are elected to office roughly in the same proportion that they run: when fewer women
run for office, fewer women have an opportunity to advance to the general election and win public office.
As of June 3, 2014, in California’s 58 counties, women comprise just 25% of all county board supervisors. California
public school boards are the closest elected body to reach gender parity, with 47% of all school board members being
The total number of women on California’s 482 city councils was 727 compared with 1,799 men, meaning women
represent 28.6% of all city council seats in the state. Only one city (Eureka) has an all-female city council and 67 (13.9%)
cities have councils with no female council members. Of the 12 largest cities in California, Oakland has the highest
percentage of women serving (55%). Los Angeles, Sacramento and Bakersfield have only one woman on the council.
Riverside has no women on its council.144 At the next level, 116 (24%) women serve as mayors of their city. Seventy-five
percent of all female state legislators served in local elected positions before running for state office.
In 2012, 73 women (25%) served among the 296
county supervisors throughout the state; in 2014,
that number has dropped to 67 (22.6%) women.
California leads the nation in the number of women-owned businesses. While these businesses contribute nearly $202
billion in revenue and over one million jobs to the state’s economy, they only account for about 13% of business receipts
of all privately-held companies in California.146 Among the California Fortune 400 companies, women continue to be
underrepresented in executive positions and on boards of directors. To encourage more equitable gender representation
on corporate boards, the California Legislature passed a resolution urging corporations to achieve at least 20%
representation for women by December 2016.
In 2015, there are estimated to be just over 9.4 million women-owned businesses (WOBs) in the United States; these
businesses generate nearly $1.5 trillion in revenues annually and employ over 7.9 million people. Nationally, women own
or are equal co-owners of 47% of all firms across the country.
California is home to 1,219,500 firms — the greatest number of women-owned firms in any state; it is the only state in which there are over 1 million women-owned firms. According to the most recent survey of business owners, California women own or are equal co-owners of 46% of all California firms.
While women either own or equally co-own nearly half (46%) of all California’s firms (both privately and publicly held),
these firms account for only 35% of the paid workforce and 10% of business receipts. However, the economic impact of
California’s women-owned businesses continues to grow, with a 9% increase in the number of firms over the past year
and a 10% increase in business receipts. A 1% increase of workers employed by women-owned businesses (just under
1,000,000 people) has occurred since 2014.
Since 1997, the number of women-owned firms
in California has grown by 74%; employment has
grown by 7%; and receipts have grown by 81%.
Over half (55%) of California’s women-owned firms are owned by minority women.152 The most recent 2015 data153
estimate that of California’s women-owned businesses:
As of 2012, women-owned companies in California contributed nearly $202 billion in revenue and more than 1 million
jobs to the state’s economy. White women own 45% of California’s women-owned businesses; however, only 11% of firms
owned by white women have employees. Fifteen percent of firms owned by Asian-American women have employees.
In 1997, 32% of all women-owned businesses in California were
owned by women of color; as of 2015, that percentage had increased
to 49%. Latina-owned businesses constituted 14% of all women owned businesses in 2002; by 2015, that number had risen to 21%.
Among California’s Fortune 400,156 the number of women CEOs has reached 17 (4.3%) up from 13 female CEOs in
2013.157 This percentage has hovered around 3–4% since 2006. In 2015, 52 companies had a female CFO (up from 50 in
2014) and 13 have a female Chief Operating Officer (down from 14 in 2014).
Of the 3,260 board positions in California’s 400 largest publicly-traded companies, women hold 13% of the seats. For
women, this represents a slow but steady increase in the number of women directors since 2011 (from 322 to 432
Among the 90 public companies on the Fortune 1,000 list that are headquartered in California, women hold 17%
of board of directors’ seats. The vast majority of women directors (90%) are white, 6% of women directors are Asian
American, 2% are Latina and 2% are African American.
To encourage equitable and diverse gender representation on corporate boards, in 2013 California passed resolution
SCR-62. This resolution urges corporations to achieve at least 20% representation of women on all boards by
December 2016. Of the largest 400 public companies, the percentage of firms that met the goals of SCR-62 increased
from 16% in 2014 to 18% in 2015. Of the 70 firms meeting the goals, more than one-third (34%) are in the computer
hardware and software industries.
Overall, the resolution has not yet had a major impact on the proportion of women on the boards of the largest public
California companies since it took effect. Unless these trends improve dramatically, California companies are unlikely to
meet the resolution’s goals by December 2016.
Though women executives in the California 400 continue to be relatively scarce among the five highest-paid officers
in each organization, there has been an incremental improvement in the number of women as major decision makers
over the past several years.163 Of the 1,823 highest-paid executives in 2015, 10.5% are women: 17 companies have a
female chief executive officer (CEO) and 52 companies have a female chief financial officer (CFO) among its highest-paid
executives. Among these highest-paid executives, median total executive compensation is $2.1 million for men and
$1.9 million for women.
The median total compensation for women who serve among the highest-paid executives in California’s 400 Companies
is 87% of that for men. Among CEOs, the median total compensation is higher for women than for men: for women in
the highest executive position within the firm, the pay disparity is reversed.
Among executive positions, those with the highest percentage of women are those with comparatively lower median
total compensation among men and women in the role — such as CFO, general counsel, corporate secretary and
treasurer. Similarly, the roles with the lowest percentage of women are those with higher median total compensation —
such as CEO, executive chairperson, executive director and president. There is a clear negative relationship between the
median total compensation in each role and the presence of women in the roles.
Physical health impacts every aspect of a person’s life. Determinants of health can include access to healthy foods,
nutrition, safe environments for physical activity, access to preventative health care, and stress levels. More than half of
California women rate their health as “excellent” or “very good,”164 and California women have a longer life expectancy
than the national average. However, among California women there are racial, ethnic and socioeconomic disparities that
persist in many categories.
California women are living longer than their counterparts across the country. Californians in general have a life
expectancy 2.2 years higher than their fellow Americans (81.2 years vs. 79.0 years). California women fare even better,
with a life expectancy of 83.5 years. However, there is considerable variability between racial and ethnic women in the
state, with Asian-American women experiencing the longest life expectancy of 89.1 years and African-American women
the shortest at 78.3 years.
Based on life expectancy at birth, California women can expect to outlive California men by more than four years: the
life expectancy of men is 78.9 years compared with 83.5 years for women. Women in every racial/ethnic group have a
longer life expectancy than men, ranging from 4.3 years (for Native Americans) to 5.5 years for African Americans.
The life expectancy of Californians (women and men) has increased from 78.5 years
in 2000 to 80.0 years in 2008 and to 81.2 years in 2012. Californians in every racial
and ethnic group are living longer; the greatest gains have been made by African
Americans. Since 2008, African Americans have an increased life expectancy of 1.8
years; Latinos have an increased life expectancy of 1.3 years, Asian Americans of 1.1
years, whites of 0.8 years and Native Americans of 0.6 years.
The 2014 birth rate (births per 1,000 total women) was higher in California at 12.9, than it was for the United States at
12.5. Nearly half (47%) of California’s births in 2014 were to Latinas.
Teen pregnancy in the U.S. has declined to a historic low.171 At the national level, births to teens ages 15–19 declined
from 29.4 in 2012 to 26.5 (per 1,000 women ages 15–19 years) in 2013.172 In California, teen birth rates decreased from
28.0 in 2010 to 25.7 in 2012.
California’s 2012 teen birth rate of 25.7 (per 1,000) varies widely among racial and ethnic groups:
In 2007, the birth rate to California teens was 40.1(per 1,000); in 2012, the teen pregnancy rate had dropped to 25.7. Across the nation, the teen pregnancy rate dropped from 41.5 (per 1,000) in 2007 to 29.4 in 2012.
One out of every three (33.2%) babies born in California hospitals is delivered by cesarean section, a statistic that
mirrors that of the United States. In California and the nation, a higher percentage of African-American mothers undergo
cesarean deliveries than white mothers or Latinas. In 2013, 38.3% of California’s African-American mothers, 32.7% Latinas
and 32.3% of white mothers gave birth by cesarean delivery.
Surgical birth carries increased risk at the time of delivery, during the postpartum recovery time, and is associated with
increased breastfeeding difficulties. The most common complications of surgical delivery are excessive bleeding, infection
and blood clots. Additionally, the majority of California women who have a surgical first birth are likely encouraged to
deliver subsequent babies this way thus increasing risks with each delivery.
The rate of cesarean deliveries in California has risen over
the past two decades. In 1996, the rate of cesarean deliveries
in California was 20.6%; in 2013, the rate was 33.2%.
For optimal health of infants, health institutions including the World Health Organization and American Academy of
Pediatrics recommend exclusive breastfeeding for six months and continued breastfeeding to 12 months.
California mothers’ breastfeeding initiation rate continues to be high at 92%. However, the percentage of mothers and
babies still breastfeeding at six months is 71%, and falls to 45% at 12 months. Exclusive breastfeeding rates are lower
with 57% percent of mothers and babies still exclusively breastfeeding at three months, dropping to 27% of mothers and
babies at six months.
Racial and ethnic disparities in breastfeeding practices persist: only three out of five African American, Asian American,
Pacific Islander and Hispanic women exclusively breastfeed while in the hospital, compared with four out of five white
California passed legislation in 2013 (SB-402) requiring all acute care facilities to adopt the “Ten Steps to Successful
Breastfeeding,” by 2025. As of December 2015, 78 out of California’s 251 acute care hospitals have earned the baby friendly
California’s Maternal Mortality Rate has declined dramatically over the last decade. From 2003 to 2013, maternal deaths
decreased from 14.6 to 7.3 (per 100,000 live births). For the nation, maternal deaths show the opposite trend, increasing
from 12.7 to 22.0.
Disparity among the rates of women dying from childbirth-related causes are evident across races. In California, African-
American women giving birth are almost four times more likely to die than white women: there are 26 maternal deaths
per 100,000 live births by African-American women compared with seven such deaths for white (non-Hispanic) women.
California’s infant mortality rates have remained essentially steady since 2010 at 4.7 (deaths per 1,000 live births). African-
American infant mortality rates continue to be double that of Latinos and two to three times the rate for white infants.
In California, women tend to report worse health status than men.186 For example, while 25% of California men reported
their health was excellent, only 21% of California women did. Likewise, while 3% of California men reported their health
was poor in 2014, 4% of California women reported the same. California women also reported higher rates of disability
status due to a physical, mental or emotional condition than their male counterparts (31% to 26%).
Currently 9% of California women and 15% of its men are uninsured.187 While the percentage of uninsured Californians
has decreased in recent years, the decrease in the number of uninsured minority women has been the most substantial.
Gender differences relative to accessing health services reported by participants in the 2014 California Health Interview
When interviewers asked participants to describe the reason for delaying care, over half of women and men (51% each)
delayed care due to the cost or lack of insurance. Latinas were more likely than other women to delay care due to cost or
lack of insurance (59%).
More women than men tend to report serious psychological distress; however, fewer California women than men are
enrolled in community mental health programs. While women are more likely to report suicidal ideation, men are more
likely to commit suicide.
Although women are more likely than men to graduate from high school and college, their self-perceived emotional
health, as well as their confidence in academic and social situations, does not mirror their success. Young women entering
college judge their emotional health less positively than men and are less likely to be as highly confident in academic and
Women entering college or university are more likely to report feeling overwhelmed and depressed compared with men.
Additionally, they are less likely than men to report high levels of emotional health.
California freshmen largely reflect the self-ratings of freshmen across the nation. Throughout the state and the nation,
roughly twice as many women first-year students report feeling frequently overwhelmed than men, and more women than
men report frequent depression. Fewer than half (44%) of women entering colleges across the United States rate their
emotional health as above average, while half or more of men rate their emotional health as above average.
The percentage of women students reporting highest or above average emotional health has been declining, while the
percentage feeling overwhelmed and depressed as seniors in high school has been increasing.
Since 2009, nationally there has been a 10 percentage point increase in the
number of women entering college who have frequently felt overwhelmed (36%
to 46%) and a five percentage point increase in the number experiencing frequent
depression (7% to 12%). Self-rated emotional health for incoming first-year
college women was at the lowest point in 2014 since the question was first asked
in 1985.192 These figures have implications for college and university counseling
services that are critical to ensuring student success.
These data have implications for student success. The Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) through its Cooperative
Institutional Research Program (CIRP) has aggregated responses to individual survey items, including feelings of being
overwhelmed and depression, to provide a multifaceted measure of students’ beliefs about their abilities and confidence
in academic environments and social situations. Researchers have found that students who rate themselves with frequent
feelings of being overwhelmed, depression and less than average emotional health have lower confidence in their skills in
both academic and social situations.
These feelings are generally consistent across time. Those who rate themselves highly in emotional health upon entering
college will tend to rate themselves highly as seniors; conversely, those who rate themselves as below average in
emotional health as incoming freshmen will tend to rate themselves low as seniors.
Serious psychological distress (SPD) causes a moderate-to-serious impairment in functioning in social, occupational or
school environments; treatment is necessary. Across the United States, 4% of all women and 3% of men 18 years and
older have SPD.
The rate of SPD among California women is significantly higher than for women across the nation.197 This difference is
particularly striking among adults 18 to 64 years of age, where the prevalence of SPD is highest.
While more women than men tend to report SPD, fewer California women than men are enrolled in community mental
health programs. Nearly 600,000 Californians with serious mental problems were served by community mental health
programs in 2014; 49% of those served were women and 51% were men.
SPD is connected to income and chronic health issues:
Nationwide, a woman who experienced SPD in the past year is roughly two times more likely to have heart disease or
diabetes than a woman without SPD. In California, a woman who experienced SPD in the past year is nearly two times
more likely to have heart disease or asthma than a woman without SPD.
Postpartum depression includes major and minor depression generally occurring within six months after giving birth. It
may manifest in anxiety, tiredness or sadness; it interferes with infant care and bonding with the newborn. Women with
postpartum depression or psychosis may experience suicidal thoughts or have thoughts of harming their infants.
Postpartum depression affects an estimated 15% of women (close to 900,000 women annually) across the U.S. who
have had clinically recognized pregnancies. Major depression alone is estimated to affect 5–7% of women in the
first three months after birth. It is estimated that one in five women with postpartum depression think of hurting
In July 2014, Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 148 requested the California Maternal Mental Health Collaborative
to establish a task force on the status of maternal mental health care, especially regarding the prevalence of postpartum
depression in California. The task force will make recommendations in a white paper in 2016.
While the prevalence of substance abuse is difficult to identify precisely, estimates can be found through the populations
who seek treatment. Overall, fewer California women than men seek treatment for substance abuse, and the proportion
of persons in treatment who are women has slightly decreased from 37.3% in 2012 to 36.5% in 2014. However, women
are more likely to seek treatment for the abuse of sedatives, tranquilizers and other stimulants compared with men.
The primary drug of abuse for most Californians continues to be amphetamines. Heroin and alcohol (either alone or with
a secondary drug) are the next most abused drugs among California women in treatment.
Methamphetamine has been the drug identified by most
Californians seeking treatment since 2002. In 2005, out of all
Californians admitted to treatment, amphetamine abuse accounted
for 38% of cases; the percentage essentially plateaued from 2009
through 2011 at 26%, but rose to 31% in 2014.
Suicide ranks as the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States and the second-most-common cause of death
among youth. In 2013, there were 41,149 suicides in the U.S., 22% of which were women. The suicide rate for that year
was 13.0 per 100,000 individuals nationwide; the suicide rate for women was 5.7 (per 100,000 women).
Suicide rates of California women have remained consistent since 2011.
Although women are three to four times less likely to die from suicide, women are more likely to make suicide plans
or to attempt suicide. The most vulnerable age range for considering suicide appears to be between 18 and 25 years.
Nationally, among young adults in this age range:
In California, approximately 60% of suicide attempts (resulting in emergency department visits or hospitalization) are
carried out by women, while women account for less than 25% of deaths by suicide.
Suicides have been linked to other abuses and disorders. In 2014, adults across the U.S. who had a substance use
disorder were roughly four times more likely than adults with no substance abuse to report suicidal thoughts or behavior.
In addition, adults who had a major depressive episode in the past year were 14 times more likely than adults without
such episodes to have had serious thoughts of suicide.
Violence is a public health problem affecting the safety and well-being of females around the world. Crimes that
disproportionately affect women include sexual violence and harassment, verbal and emotional abuse, and human
trafficking. Women who experience these types of violent crimes suffer immediate and long-term physical, mental, sexual
and reproductive health effects.219 In the United States, approximately one in four victims of violence by an intimate
partner become fearful and one in five victims exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Intimate partner violence (IPV), including physical and sexual violence, continues to be one of the greatest public
health problems affecting women around the world. Globally, it is estimated that approximately 30% of women have
experienced some type of IPV in their lifetime.
In the United States, an estimated 9% of women (and 0.5% of men) have experienced rape by an intimate partner during
their lifetime. An additional 16% of women (and 10% of men) have experienced other forms of sexual violence from their
partners, and 22% of women have suffered severe physical violence by an intimate partner over their lifetimes.
IPV frequently occurs in the context of domestic violence. In 2014, there were 155,965 domestic violence-related calls to
law enforcement agencies in California. Approximately 43% of these calls involved a weapon. In 80% of the cases where a
weapon was involved, a personal weapon (fists, feet, etc.) was used; the remaining cases involved a firearm, knife or other
Based on records from 1986, the number of domestic violence-related
calls for assistance in California reached a peak in 1994 at 250,439 —
and 73% involved a weapon. In 2014, the total number of calls has
decreased to just under 156,000 — and 43% involved a weapon.
While women comprised only 18% of California’s homicide victims in 2014, they were much more likely than men to be
killed by their spouse: of 59 homicides committed by spouses, 46 of the victims were women.
While women from all socioeconomic and educational backgrounds are vulnerable to IPV, certain factors can increase
vulnerability, including having experienced or witnessed domestic violence. These factors also increase the likelihood for
being a perpetrator. In addition, alcohol often is a factor in the perpetrator’s behavior.
Sexual violence, including rape, continues to disproportionately impact women. Across the U.S., an estimated 19% of
women, compared with 2% of men, have been raped during their lifetimes; 44% of women, compared with 23% of men,
have experienced other forms of sexual violence.
In California, there were 9,397 reported rapes and attempted rapes in 2014; this translates to a rate of 24 rape crimes per
100,000 Californians. Nearly all (98%) of those arrested for these crimes were men. Prior to 2014, the number of rapes
in California had been steadily decreasing for the past seven years; however, a comparison of 2014 numbers to earlier
years is not valid based on the change in the definition of rape which occurred in 2014.
Sexual violence is a pervasive problem on university and college campuses across the United States. Since the 1990s,
attention has become more focused on sexual aggression and violence between college students. The Clery Act in 1990
and the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (Campus SaVE Act) passed by Congress as part of Title IX in 2013 are
two recent laws that seek to prevent and end sexual violence.
In a recent survey conducted at universities and colleges across the United States, women undergraduates reported
non-consensual sexual contact by physical force or incapacitation five times more than men (23% vs. 5%). Undergraduate
students identifying themselves as transgender, genderqueer, non-conforming, questioning, or not listed (TGQN)
reported a slightly higher rate (24%) than women as a whole (23%). In 64% of the incidents, respondents described their
assailant as a student.
Risk factors for non-consensual sexual contact include the use of alcohol or drugs. Among undergraduate women, 5% to
6% reported penetration by incapacitation or with force. Women were most likely to experience non-consensual sexual
contact by physical force or incapacitation in their freshmen year (17%); this percentage steadily decreases by year,
reaching a low of 11% of women who experienced this type of sexual contact in their senior year.
It is estimated that only 28% of the incidents of sexual violence that take place are reported to the appropriate authorities
(e.g., campus or local police). Over 50% of victims who do not report believed that the incident was “not serious
enough”; another 36% do not report because of personal embarrassment or shame, emotional difficulties or trauma;
29% indicated the belief that “nothing will be done.”
On college and university campuses across the nation, 13% of undergraduate women report being the victim of an
intimate partner; 62% report sexual harassment; and another 7% reported being stalked.
Students identifying as TGQN experience the highest rate in all three categories of sexual violence and harassment.234
Three-quarters of TGQN students experience harassment, and they are more than twice as likely as women overall to
experience sexual violence by an intimate partner.
Campus statistics on sexual violence are not broken out by state in the AAU report. However, under the legacy definition
of rape, a total of 58 rapes were reported via the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting System by 12 University of California
campuses in 2014. Sixteen campuses of the California State University system reported a total of 35 rapes.
California leads all other states in the trafficking of humans, narcotics and weapons. These crimes are often committed
by transnational criminal organizations that operate within our state. Globally, it is estimated that approximately 27 million
people are trafficked each year, with 18,000 to 20,000 victims here in the U.S.
The Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST) is based in Los Angeles. In 2015, its national hotline received more
than 1,000 calls for assistance and CAST provided services to 271 female clients. Of those:
California is a leader in human trafficking due to factors that include a large immigrant population, proximity to the
Mexican border and a large economy. There have been approximately 1,300 human trafficking victims identified over
the past two years in California. Types of human trafficking include sex trafficking (56% in California), labor trafficking and
domestic servitude (21% in California). It is believed that all transnational criminal organizations are involved in human
In 2015, according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, there were 979 reported cases of human
trafficking in California. In approximately 90% of these cases, the victims were female; 30% of these cases involved
Greater than three-fourths of the total cases reported in the first three quarters of 2015 involved sex trafficking, with just
over 10% of the cases involving labor trafficking.
Women comprise 15% of the active Armed Forces of the United States. While 9% of today’s veterans are women, the
percentage of women veterans is projected to increase to 16% by 2040.241 As a group, California women veterans
are more highly educated and compensated than non-veteran women. However, military women continue to be
disproportionately affected by sexual trauma, an experience associated with long-term issues including post-traumatic
stress disorder (PTSD) and homelessness.
The percentage of women in the military increased dramatically from 1973 to 2000.242 In 1973, 2% of the enlisted ranks
and 4% of commissioned officers were women.243 Today, women comprise about 15% of the U.S. active-duty military
force. Most of these 200,000-plus women are in the Army, the Air Force and Navy; only 8% are enlisted in the Marine
In addition to the active military force, 18% of National Guard and reservists are women.
Active military women are a diverse group. The racial composition is:
Fourteen percent of active-duty women identified as Latina, who may be of any race.
Veterans represent 8% of the population 18 years and older in the United States and Puerto Rico (21,680,534).248
California ranks second in the nation behind Texas in having the largest number of female veterans. Of the estimated
2,035,213 women veterans in the U.S., 164,516 reside in California.
The number of veterans, including women veterans, has decreased in recent years. In California, the number of women
veterans has diminished by 2% from 2013 to 2014.249 While the number of veterans is decreasing, the percentage of
veterans who are women has been identified as the fastest growing demographic in the veteran population.
According to projections by the California Department of Veterans,
female veterans will be 15% of the state’s total veteran population by
2034.250 The percentage of California veterans who are women has
increased from 6% in 2008 to just under 8% in 2014.
Forty percent of California’s female veterans identify as women of color.
Compared with California’s population as a whole, African American and white women have a greater representation
among veterans, while Asian-American women and Latinas are under-represented in the veteran population.
A majority of women veterans are under 54 years of age while the majority of men veterans are 65 years and older. Over
20% of California women veterans are 65 years and older.
Nationwide and statewide, veterans overall tend to be more highly educated than the non-veteran population. In
California, 74% of veterans 25 years and older have some college experience compared with 61% of the non-veteran
Forty-six percent of California’s women veterans have a college degree and 33% have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.
As a whole, 36% of California’s women have a college degree and 28% hold a bachelor’s degree.
Nationally, the unemployment rate of veterans is less than that of non-veterans.
In 2013–2014, all women — regardless of veteran status — experienced an unemployment rate of 6%. And importantly,
women veterans were unemployed at a higher rate than their male counterparts: 6.0% and 5.2%, respectively.
California’s 2014 unemployment rate was higher than the nation’s. The unemployment rate of all California veterans (ages
18–64 years) was 7.4% while that of non-veterans was 8.5%.257 Because over 92% of California’s veterans are male,
these figures may mask the unemployment status of women.
In addition to lower unemployment rates, veterans across the state and the nation received higher median earnings than
Veterans across the state earned $10,000 to $13,000 more than their non-veteran counterparts in 2014. Additionally,
earnings for both California veterans and non-veterans are greater than those across the United States.
The gender wage gap persists in the veteran population: in 2014, California’s women veterans earned 85% of what male
veterans earned. In this same year, California’s full-time, year-round working women earned 84% of what men earned.
The gender wage gap for California’s veterans has significantly
narrowed over the past decade: in 2006, women veterans earned
74% of their men counterparts and in 2014, women veterans
earned 85% of that earned by men.
The percentage of veterans who live in poverty is roughly half of that for non-veterans. In California, 15% of non-veterans
and 8% of veterans lived below the federal poverty level in the past 12 months.
However, veterans make up a disproportionately large percentage of the homeless population both across the nation and
the state: although veterans are less likely to be poor, poor veterans are more likely to become homeless. Across the
nation, veterans represent 8% of the total population but 11% (58,000) of the homeless population.
Veteran homelessness has declined in California by 33% over the time period from 2009–2014. However in 2014,
California led all other states with the largest number of veterans experiencing homelessness (12,096);265 this represented
almost a quarter (24%) of the national homeless veteran population. The majority of California’s homeless veterans were
living in unsheltered locations.
In general, homeless data for veterans are not disaggregated by gender. Limited U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs data
show that the number of women veterans across the U.S identified as homeless more than doubled between fiscal year
(FY) 2006 and FY 2010. In FY 2010, homeless women veterans were commonly middle-aged, divorced, unemployed or
newly homeless. Many of these women also had disabilities.
Compared with male veterans, female veterans, especially those with children, may have more limited access to housing
and services that will adequately meet their needs for physical safety and psychological well-being, as well as family
status. In addition, service providers may find it challenging to reach the female veterans who need assistance.
Twenty-eight percent of California’s veterans suffer a disability compared with 12% of non-veterans. In 2014, 19% of
California veterans identified as suffering from a service-connected disability, with 27% of disabled veterans having a
service-connected disability rating of 70% or more. In a 2012 sample of California veterans, 12% of women reported a
service-related disability, with 29% of the disabled veterans having a disability rating of greater than 70%.
Military sexual trauma is the term that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs uses to refer to psychological trauma,
which “resulted from a physical assault of a sexual nature, battery of a sexual nature, or sexual harassment which occurred
while the veteran was serving on active duty or active duty for training.” In 2014, just under 5% of active duty women
and 1% of active duty men experienced a sexual assault in the year prior to being surveyed.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a large mental health challenge facing many returning veterans. A correlation
between military sexual trauma and PTSD has been found, with one study reporting that women who experience military
sexual trauma are nine times more at risk for PTSD than women who have not suffered military sexual trauma.
Sports can be a source of physical activity and personal enjoyment. The activity involved in sports promotes overall
physical and mental health, and participation in school sports is positively linked to academic retention and success
among children and young adults.276 Team sports provide an additional opportunity for socialization.
Participation in organized sports remains gendered, and it starts early. Title IX, passed in 1972, calls for equal opportunity
participation for females and males in federally-funded organized sports programs. However, in the 40-plus years since
passage of Title IX, the gender gap in high school sports opportunities remains. In fact, the gap has widened slightly over
the past decade: in 2000, 32% of girls and 43% of boys had the opportunity to participate in school sports programs; in
2010 those statistics were 41% for girls compared with 53% of boys.
The representation of women in sports as leaders, coaches and mentors mirrors this inequity. Women currently comprise
approximately 10% of all high school athletic directors and less than 20% of college athletic directors.278 Among the
National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) Division I institutions, only 2% of men’s teams have women as head
coaches; however, nearly 60% of women’s teams have men as head coaches.279 Sports such as field hockey, lacrosse, golf
and softball have the highest percentage of women coaches, while cross country, swimming, track and field, diving and
skiing have the least.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that all children age 6 and older engage in 60 minutes
or more of physical activity every day to promote good health. National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys
indicate only 25% of U.S. children 6 to 15 years of age meet these recommendations.
Furthermore, fewer girls than boys meet the 60-minute daily minimum, and this gender disparity widens through
adolescence. At age 11, 24% of girls report at least an hour of daily physical activity. By age 15, though, that percentage
drops to 17%, compared with 33% of boys.
School sports programs, recess activities or other unstructured play should provide sufficient activity for children.
Organized sport participation through schools or community organizations alone can contribute up to 60% of daily
activity. However, only 57% of white girls, 47% of African-American girls and 45% of Latinas participate on at least one
community or sports team.
For adults up to the age of 65 years, Health and Human Services recommends 1 to 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activity
or 1.25 hours of vigorous-intensity activity per week. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimated that
only 53% of women across the United States (and 56% of men) engaged in sufficient physical activity. Californians are
somewhat more active, with 59% of California’s women and 61% men engaging in sufficient physical activity.
It is recommended that adults ages 65 years and over be as physically active as individual abilities and condition allow.
Physical activity protects the body’s health in a number of ways. It is associated with:
A third of all women’s deaths worldwide and over one-third (37%) of the deaths of California women are from
cardiovascular disease.288 Recognizing the unique risk factors to women’s health, the American Heart Association has
updated its physical activity guidelines for the prevention of cardiovascular disease in women. Based on multiple
clinical studies, the guidelines (2.5 hours of moderate intensity or 1.25 hours of vigorous intensity activity each week)
have been updated to include additional considerations, among them:
Studies have shown that physical activity is associated with health benefits and, in general, more physical activity provides
more health benefits. Women who engage in physical activity for less than an hour per week have 1.5 times the risk of
developing coronary heart disease than women who do more than 3 hours per week. Women and men who walk at least
two hours a week reduced their incidence of premature death from cardiovascular disease by about 50% relative to those
who were physically inactive.
Multiple studies in the United States and around the world are finding that physical activity is linked to a reduced risk of
cancer, especially colon and breast cancer.
While the effect of physical activity on cancer survival in general is still being debated, a review of 17 studies revealed
a positive relation between women’s physical activity and improved cancer survival rates—and specifically of surviving
Osteoporosis, characterized by weakened and fragile bone tissue, is a disease that predominantly affects women.
Studies suggest that approximately 50% of women age 50 and older will break a bone at some point in their lifetime
due to osteoporosis. Women are at greater risk for osteoporosis than men primarily for two reasons: they tend to have
smaller bones than males and women have a higher body level of estrogen, a hormone which protects bone strength.
However, estrogen levels decrease sharply after menopause, accelerating the prevalence of osteoporosis in older women.
Regular physical activity has been associated with building and maintaining bone density. Vigorous activity (hiking,
jogging, etc.) and resistance exercises that involve lifting a weight against gravity have been found particularly effective.
Physical activity has been found to increase bone health in both girls and boys, particularly before puberty. By building
bone mass in the formative years, adolescents can begin adulthood with a larger bone mass that will mitigate the onset
Nine percent of California’s women report depression. While fewer women than men die from suicide, women are more
likely than men to make suicide plans or to attempt suicide.
A recent study considered the effects of physical activity on symptoms of depression by examining data from nearly 1,000
women and 1,000 men who were roughly 30 years of age. For women, increased physical activity was associated with
decreases in depressive symptoms, including hypersomnia (sleepiness), excessive/irrational guilt and suicidality.
A recent literature review focused on 50 studies that explored the association between school-based physical activity and
academic performance among school-aged youth.300 Researchers concluded that there was substantial evidence that
physical activity can:
There is a similar positive association between schools’ sport participation rates and enrollment rates in Advanced
Placement courses—specifically in math, science and foreign language areas. An examination of 4,600 public high
schools during the 2009-2010 school year showed that the sports participation rate of girls has a greater positive relation
to AP enrollment than that for boys.
For incoming college students, survey data collected from students nationwide leads researchers to conclude that the
more time women devote to exercise and sports, the greater their physical and emotional health, the lower the stress
and the greater the drive to achieve. There is also a positive association with higher academic degree aspirations and
better college grades. For male students, spending more time on exercise and sports has the opposite effect of being
associated with lower college grades.
Women athletes receive 45% of college sport scholarship dollars and women’s programs receive 40% of sport operating
dollars. These figures are roughly proportional to the 43% of program opportunities available to women.
Although coaching salaries vary by sport, by gender and by conference, most college coaches make considerably more
than faculty in other departments.306 Coaches of men’s teams (only 2% are women) are paid better than coaches of
women’s teams: the average salary for head coaches of men’s teams is $490,364 while for women’s teams it’s $149,473.
For women’s teams, where 40% of coaches are female, salaries of female head coaches more closely match those of their
male counterparts. In the NCAA’s Big Ten Conference, for example, the average salaries of female coaches of women’s
teams were found to be slightly more than male coaches of women’s teams: $130,000 to $113,000, respectively.
These economic disparities are exaggerated in professional sports. As examples:
On a positive note, the ATP and WTA tennis associations provide the men’s and women’s champions of its grand slam
tournaments with equal prize money — as do the World Marathon Majors and the World Surf League.
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