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:
Motivated to create a Report on the Status of Women & Girls for your community? Contact Emerald Archer, director of the University’s Center for the Advancement of Women: firstname.lastname@example.org or 213.477.2544.
On March 23, 2017, hundreds of engaged citizens took part in the release of Mount Saint Mary’s sixth annual Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California™. The main program featured an analysis of the timely challenges and opportunities facing California’s women and girls, and was followed by a special Architects of Change conversation featuring Maria Shriver, Gwyneth Paltrow and Roberta Brinton, PhD.
We also hosted a pair of panel discussions featuring health and wellness experts discussing the importance of physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. We know that when women flourish, we all flourish. Now, indeed, is the time for strength. Join us. Let’s get stronger, together.
To read and share our 2017 research, click on the download buttons, or view the content by topic below.
On Jan. 21, 2017, millions of people gathered in hundreds of cities across the
United States and the world to stand up for the rights of women and girls. The
whole world heard the marchers’ collective voices — women are strong, and we
are stronger together.
This is the time for all of us to work together. When we improve the lives of women
and girls everywhere, we enrich our families and our communities. When we
advocate for gender equality, we break the cycles of bias, poverty and violence
Our mission at Mount Saint Mary’s University is to empower women through
education. Every year, we produce the Report on the Status of Women and Girls in
California because it is only by understanding the challenges we face that we can promote solutions to reach
gender equity. Half of California’s population is made up of women and girls, yet we only have 22 percent
representation in the state legislature. Among the 400 largest companies headquartered in California, only
four percent have a woman serving as CEO. In 2015, our legislators passed into law a sweeping equal pay
act, yet women continue to earn less than their male counterparts.
At Mount Saint Mary’s, we are hard at work on narrowing these gender gaps. Our newly opened Center
for the Advancement of Women will enable us to expand our research and advocacy efforts, as well as our
leadership training programs. This year we are also taking a bold new step by launching a comprehensive
wellness movement at our university — because we know that women’s health and wellbeing are integral to
creating strong, effective, resilient leaders.
Now, indeed, is the time for strength. When women flourish, we all flourish.
Let’s get stronger, together.
With warmest regards,
This is the sixth annual edition of The Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California™. Drafted by a team of Mount Saint Mary’s University academics, this Report is part of an ongoing effort to carry on the mission of our founders, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. That mission, to enable women to become all they are capable of being, remains an urgent call for our institution. This Report is part of how our University answers that call: by bringing attention to data that will enlighten policymakers and the public as to the conditions faced by women and girls in California, so that we all may work toward a more just, equal and inclusive society.
The history of progress for women in California and the nation has been a journey of increased rights, expanding opportunities and falling barriers. However, as revealed over the six years of this Report, the progress can be slow. But progress is being made. In 2016, for the first time a woman candidate represented a major party in the U.S. presidential election. However, despite earning 2.8 million more votes than her opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lost in the Electoral College, and therefore lost the presidency to Donald Trump. While the United States has never elected a woman to the highest office in the country, history was made, and a major barrier broken. In California, women continue to earn college degrees at higher rates than men, their life expectancy continues to increase and more women than ever are starting their own businesses. Unfortunately, women’s earning power continues to lag behind that of men, and women are underrepresented in the highest-paying positions in major corporations. It is our hope that by highlighting both the pace of progress and the persistence of inequities we will energize and inspire the hard work necessary to improve the lives of women and girls in California.
Key information included in the Report:
Demographics: California females are highly diverse, with 62% identifying as women and girls of color. California also has a large immigrant population: 10.7 million Californians are foreign-born. Twenty-eight percent of California’s women and girls are foreign-born, compared to 14% across the United States.
Education: While 20% of California women have only attained a high school diploma, and another 20% have also completed a bachelor’s degree, only 12% of women have also earned a graduate or professional degree. Women hold half of all postsecondary degrees in California: they hold more than half of associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, but less than half of professional and doctoral degrees. While more California women than ever are earning undergraduate degrees in science and mathematics, they remain vastly underrepresented in technology and engineering majors.
Employment and Earnings: Women continue to be paid less than men across virtually all occupational categories reported in California. The gender wage gap for full-time, year-round workers in California is 86 cents on the dollar, resulting in California women earning on average approximately $7,000 a year less than men. The gender wage gap in California is less than the national wage gap, which is 80 cents on the dollar.
Poverty: California females are more likely than males to live below the federal poverty level; females are also more likely to live in extreme poverty with incomes less than 50% of the federal poverty level. While more women than men live in poverty, there continues to be a greater inequality in poverty rates among women across ethnic and racial groups.
Political Leadership: Hillary Clinton became the first woman to be the presidential candidate for a major party, winning California and the popular vote, but losing the Electoral College and the presidency to Donald Trump. The 2017 Congress of the United States will be comprised of 104 women, maintaining an all-time high female representation of 19% women serving in Congress. California continues to be represented in the United States Senate by two women, with former California Attorney General Kamala Harris replacing Senator Barbara Boxer, and joining Senator Dianne Feinstein. The number of California women serving in the House of Representatives delegation declined by two seats in 2016, going from 19 to 17 female representatives; women will comprise 32% of the 2017 California House of Representatives delegation.
Women and Business: Since 2007, the number of women-owned firms in California has increased 41%. During this same time period, employment by these firms has increased by over 10% and sales revenue has increased by 20%. Despite women’s success in owning businesses, they continue to be underrepresented in the executive suite of publicly-held companies. Among California’s 400 largest publicly-held companies, women hold only 13% of director seats and account for only 10.5% of the highest-paid executives. Among the top 400 California companies, 4% have a woman serving as the chief executive officer (CEO); among the top 25 companies, 44% have a woman as CEO.
Health: In California, women outlive men by almost five years; they can expect to outlive women across the U.S. by nearly two years. However, for California women and girls there are many aspects of health and wellbeing that need addressing. California women tend to be less physically active than men: 35% of women and 28% of men do not get the recommended amount of physical activity each week. Good eating patterns are critical in promoting a healthy body weight and preventing/managing several chronic diseases, but meeting nutritional guidelines can be difficult, particularly for minorities and low-income individuals. Two-thirds of California women report meeting government guidelines on eating fruit. Although cesarean delivery brings increased risks of complications for mothers, approximately one in three of all births in California and the nation are by cesarean section.
Violence: In 2015, there were 162,302 domestic violence-related calls for assistance made in California. Just over 42% of these calls involved a weapon. As of Sept. 30, 2016, there were 5,748 cases of human trafficking in the U.S.; 1,012 (18%) of reported cases were in California. The vast majority of victims (89%) in California’s human trafficking cases are women and girls. As of Jan. 1, 2017, children in California under the age of 18 engaged in prostitution are considered victims of sex trafficking and can no longer be charged with prostitution.
Film and Television: 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, and nearly three-fourths of these women are White. Overall, women are employed in greatest proportion as producers. Box office figures for the top
100 highest-grossing, non-animated films of 2015 showed that films featuring women earned 19% more than films led
California is the most populous state in the nation:
12% of the U.S. population lives in California.
19.7 million California women and girls comprise 50% of the state’s population.
California females are highly diverse, with 62% identifying as women and girls of color.
There are now slightly more Latinas than White women and girls. Over the past decade, the proportion of African-American females has remained relatively unchanged, while the proportion of Asian Americans has risen slightly from 13% to 15%.
An increasing number of young Californians identify with multiple races. Less than 5% of California females identify as multiracial, with half of those under the age of 22 years.
While the median age of California women is 37 years and 41% are currently married, these statistics vary widely among ethnic/racial groups.
Half of Latinas are under the age of 30 years, while half of White women are over the age of 47 years. More than half of Asian-American women over the age of 15 years are married, while roughly one in four African-American women is currently married.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 478,800 California women aged 15 to 50 years gave birth in 2015. Among the total births:
California has a richly diverse immigrant population: 10.7 million Californians are foreign-born. Twenty-eight percent of California’s women and girls are foreign-born, compared to 14% across the United States.8 Among California’s 5.5 million foreign-born females:
Women and girls from Mexico alone account for 38% of California’s immigrant females. However, since 2010, only 17% of California’s immigrant females have come from Mexico, with the majority (59%) emigrating from Asian countries.
Over half, 55%, of California’s population age 5 years and older speak only English at home. The remaining 45% speak a language other than English in the home, with the most common language being Spanish: 29% of California residents speak Spanish at home.
Veterans make up 5% of California’s population with an estimated 165,000 women among them. Female veterans in the state are predominantly White. However, the demographic profile of veterans is age dependent, with younger veterans more ethnically and racially diverse than older veterans.
White women make up over 80% of female veterans age 75 years and older, but they comprise less than half of those under the age of 25 years. The percentage of Latinas is higher among younger veterans, while the proportion of Whites goes up as veterans increase in age.
As in California, female veterans across the United States tend to be younger than their male counterparts, with median ages of 49 years and 64 years, respectively.
Roughly 3% of California’s women age 25 and older have not completed any formal schooling, compared to just over 1% of women across the U.S. In terms of educational attainment, one in five California women has attained a high school degree, compared to 27% nationwide. At the other end of the educational spectrum, however, a similar proportion of California’s women compared to those nationwide has attained a four-year university degree or a graduate or professional degree. While more California women than ever are earning undergraduate degrees in science and mathematics, they remain vastly underrepresented in technology and engineering majors.
Educational Attainment of Women
While 20% of California women have attained only a high school diploma, and another 20% have also attained a bachelor’s degree, only 12% of women have also earned a graduate or professional degree. These figures mirror those of the nation as a whole.
Although one in three of all California women has attained a bachelor’s or advanced degree, this rate varies among ethnic/racial groups. Twenty-five percent of California’s African-American women, 50% of Asian American, 13% of Latinas, and 41% of White women have attained a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.
In the 2015-16 school year, 6.2 million students were enrolled in California public K-12 schools; just over 3 million (49%) of these students were girls. Over half (54%) of girls in K-12 public schools are Latina, while just under one-quarter (24%) are white. Nine percent of girls in K-12 are Asian American, while 6% are African American; Filipinas comprise 2% of girls and 3% identify as multi-racial. These demographics have not significantly changed from 2014-15.
California’s Department of Education follows students over the four years of high school to develop a cohort outcome. For the graduating class of 2014-15, 82% of students in the cohort graduated. Girls continue to graduate at a higher rate than boys: 86% and 79%, respectively. However, the variation in graduation rate among ethnic/racial groups is greater than between genders.
Graduation rates for girls vary from a high of 95% (for Filipinas) to a low of 77% (for African Americans). For boys, rates vary from 91% (for both Filipinos and Asian Americans) to 65% (for African Americans).
Among 2014-15 high school graduates, 43% had completed all courses required for entrance to the University of California and/or California State University: nearly half (49%) of girls who graduated met these criteria, while 38% of boys completed the courses required for entrance to California’s public universities.
Women hold 52% of all postsecondary degrees in California: they hold more than half of associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, but less than half of professional and doctoral degrees.
Fields of Bachelor’s Degrees
Forty-one percent of bachelor’s degrees held by Californians are in science and engineering fields. Half of the men holding degrees have a bachelor’s in science and engineering fields, compared to only a third of women (32%) who majored in these fields.
While a smaller proportion of California’s college women than men have majored in science and engineering fields, more women than men have majored in fields related to science and engineering (11% to 5%). Additionally, a much higher proportion of women than men majored in education (10% and 3%, respectively) and in the arts and humanities (30% and 21%, respectively).
Proportion of Bachelor’s Degrees Held by Women
While women hold more than half of all baccalaureate degrees, they hold less than half of bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering (40%) and in business (46%). However, the proportion of bachelor’s degrees held by women in all fields has shifted over time.
Younger women are earning a greater percentage of degrees in science and engineering than their older counterparts: Among the younger 25-to-29-year-old age group, women hold nearly half (47%) of the degrees in science and engineering, while women aged 65 years and over hold only 29% of degrees in the same field. Likewise, women are earning a greater proportion of degrees in business today (49%) compared to the proportion of business degrees earned by women who are now 65 years and over (30%).
STEM and Health Fields
The Department of Education breaks down degree fields differently than the U.S. Census Bureau. Focusing on the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields and health professions, the Department of Education reports degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions participating in Title IV federal financial aid programs.
In the Department of Education database, women across the U.S. earn more than half of bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in the life sciences and health profession majors, but remain woefully underrepresented among the technology and engineering majors. In 2013, less than 2% of women across the U.S. who earned bachelor’s degrees majored in engineering. In addition, less than 2% of women earning a degree majored in mathematics, statistics and computer sciences; only 0.9% of women earning a bachelor’s degree majored in computer sciences.
From another perspective: While women across the U.S. hold 52% of bachelor’s degrees, the proportion of degrees now being earned by women in STEM or health professional fields varies widely.
Nationwide, women earned roughly one out of five degrees awarded in 2014-15 in computer and information sciences, as well as in engineering. Women earned the majority of the degrees in the biological and biomedical sciences, as well as in health professions/related programs and the physical science/science technologies.
In health fields, women received nearly half of all professional degrees awarded in 2013–14:
In 2013–14, women earned the majority of professional degrees in both optometry and pharmacy, and 79% of those who earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) were women.
Among healthcare professions, women comprise the vast majority of students earning nursing degrees. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reported that women represent 93% of the U.S. nursing workforce. In 2013–2014, nearly nine out of 10 students enrolled in nursing programs were women:
In general, median earnings increase with educational attainment: based on median earnings, those who hold a four-year college degree have an annual income more than 2.5 times that of workers with a high school diploma.
However, the field of study leading to an undergraduate degree has an impact on potential earnings. A recent analysis of national data has determined which undergraduate majors have the greatest earning potential for graduates in the first five years after college. While the nationwide data are not gender specific, STEM fields lead the list of the top 10 majors with the highest entry-level earning potential, headed by computer science and engineering. STEM majors find work primarily in the technology and health industries, with higher-paying jobs than is generally true for other majors. Among the top 10 majors with highest potential earnings in the first five years after college are five engineering majors (electrical, mechanical, chemical, industrial and civil engineering); nursing ranks ninth among the top majors with highest earnings potential for entry-level positions.
Only 6% of California’s veterans have less than a high school degree, compared to 19% of non-veterans; a much higher percentage of veterans than non-veterans have had some college experience or have attained a post-secondary degree.
Seventy-five percent of veterans have had some college study, compared to 60% of nonveterans. National data show that among veterans, a greater percentage of women have higher educational attainment than men.
Approximately 79% of female veterans across the United States have completed some college or attained a bachelor’s or advanced degree compared to 63% of men.
In 2015, the state of California passed into law a sweeping equal pay act. The aim of the act is to end discriminatory pay practices across genders and empower employees to use the legal system to rectify past gender pay inequity. The gender wage gap remained a persistent problem in the state of California in 2015.
California’s 2015 labor force had approximately 1.5 million more men than women.
In 2015, the unemployment rate for men in California was slightly lower than for women and unemployment for both genders fell approximately 1% from 2014 levels. California’s unemployment is slightly higher than the U.S. rate for both women and men.
In the broadest occupational categories reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, California women hold a distinct minority of positions in natural resources, construction and maintenance occupations (5%), as well as in production, transportation and material moving occupations (21%). In California, women hold 41% of all positions in the full-time, year-round civilian employed population 16 years and older. They hold:
However, occupations remain gendered within each of these clusters. For example, in sales and office occupations 65% of all cashiers are women, while only 29% of first-line supervisors of non-retail sales workers are women. In service occupations, women comprise 80% of those in healthcare support occupations, but they account for only 18% of those in protective services.
The management, business, science and arts occupational cluster is quite diverse, but again occupations remain gendered. This cluster includes healthcare practitioner occupations, for example, where women comprise two-thirds of healthcare professionals overall. A closer look at this category shows where women are underrepresented.
An overwhelming percentage of California’s nurses are women, while a majority of physicians and surgeons are men.
Nearly one in four (24%) of those employed in science, technology, engineering and mathematics occupations are women; women tend to be vastly underrepresented in computer, technology and engineering.
The computer technology field is lucrative in salary, offers generous employee benefits, and is growing in the state of California. Roughly 21 in 100 California employees in computer technology are women; only 14 of 100 engineers are women.
In 2015, to encourage girls to consider STEM fields of study, the California Legislature (ACR-17 Women and Girls in STEM Week) and California State Superintendent of Public Instruction launched “Women and Girls in STEM Week in California,” April 5–11 in public schools across the state. Within California, “STEM jobs are expected to grow 21.4 percent over the next five years, versus a 10.4 percent growth in jobs overall, and business leaders say they do not have enough skilled workers to fill these jobs.” For its part, the Los Angeles Unified School District opened the Girls Academic Leadership Academy (GALA), the first non-charter all-girls school in the state with a focus on STEM education in the 2016–2017 school year.
The gender wage gap for full-time, year-round workers in California is 86 cents on the dollar, resulting in California women earning approximately $7,000 a year less than men. The gender wage gap in California is less than the national wage gap, which is 80 cents on the dollar.
Gender Earnings Gap by Race/Ethnicity
Both African-American women and Latinas earn close to what African-American men and Latinos earn. However, full-time working women of color earn less than White women and markedly less than White men. The median salary of full-time working White men is $71,164; Latinas earn 43% and African-American women earn 63% of what White men earn.
Gender Earnings Gap by Occupation
California women who work full-time earn less than men in each of the five broadest occupational categories reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Among Californians working full-time in healthcare and STEM occupations, the gender wage gap persists; however, the median salary for women in these fields tends to be significantly above women’s overall median annual wage of $44,561.
While there are a few occupations in which there is near wage parity between women and men, women earn less than men in every broad occupational cluster. In the coming years, it will be interesting to see if the state’s 2015 Fair Pay Act will help resolve the persistent wage gap facing female employees of all sectors.
Employment Status, Labor Force and Unemployment
Nationwide, the 2015 unemployment rate for all veterans is less than that for non-veterans; however, the unemployment rate for women veterans is higher than that for their non-veteran counterparts. In California, 50% of the state’s 1.8 million veterans are in the labor force, with an unemployment rate of 6.8%.
Nationally, a higher percentage of female veterans work in the management, professional, sales and office industries than their male counterparts.
The median earnings of veterans are greater than that of non-veterans, with both women and men earning more than their counterparts. As is true in the non-veteran population, however, female veterans earn less than male veterans. The gender wage gap among veterans is significantly narrower than that for the non-veteran population: California’s female veterans earn 85% of what male veterans earn while non-veteran women earn 71% of what non-veteran men earn.
California’s poverty rate is down slightly from last year, but remains higher than that of the nation as a whole. The state’s 2015 poverty rate is 15%; this number represents nearly 5.9 million Californians living with incomes below the federal poverty level.
In California, single-mother families (family households headed by women with no husband present) are more likely than married households to live in poverty. Among single-mother households, rates of poverty vary with the racial or ethnic makeup of the home.
In 2016, the U.S. Census Bureau57 set the federal poverty level (FPL) at:
The Census Bureau measures poverty by comparing pre-tax income against the FPL. Those with incomes below the FPL are said to live in poverty.
The Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics have created a “Supplemental Poverty Measure” (SPM) to account for many of the government programs that help low-income families and individuals and to make geographic adjustments for differences in housing costs. When one includes the measures of poverty and income in the SPM, California’s poverty rate increases to 20.6%; this is higher than the national SPM rate of 15.1%.
An analysis of incomes over the years 1990–2014 reveals that California is one of approximately 20 states where the middle- and lower-income populations reported lower incomes in 2014 than those in the same class reported in 1990. California’s undersupply of residential housing, population growth in lower-income areas, and increased migration to lower-cost states contribute to these trends.
California females are more likely than males to live on incomes below the federal poverty level: 16% of women and girls compared to 14% of men and boys live below the poverty level. Women and girls are also more likely to live in extreme poverty on incomes less than 50% of the FPL.
While more women than men live at or below the federal poverty level, there continues to be a greater inequality in poverty rates among women across ethnic and racial groups.
The poverty rate for all California women and girls is 16%; however, roughly one out of every four California African-American females (24%), Alaska Native/Native American females (24%), and Latinas (23%) live in poverty. Roughly one in 10 White (11%) and Asian-American (12%) females live in poverty.
Eleven percent (11%) of all families live in poverty; however, 17 % of families with children under the age of 18 years live in poverty. Single-mother households are hit particularly hard: 37% of those with children under the age of 18 years live in poverty. There has been only a very slight decrease in poverty rates over the last five years.
Consistent with the variation in overall poverty rates for California women across racial and ethnic groups, there is a significant disparity in poverty rates for households headed by single women of different races/ethnicities.
Thirty-five percent of single-mother households headed by Latinas live in poverty compared to 16% headed by White women.
Experts define food insecurity or low food security as “a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food.” Food insecurity is an indicator of socioeconomic insecurity and poverty. In 2014, 41% of California women with incomes less than 200% of the FPL reported not being able to afford enough food, compared to 35% of men. Food insecurity exhibits similar ethnic and racial disparities as other socioeconomic conditions, with African-American women and Latinas reporting the highest levels of food insecurity (49% and 45%, respectively), followed by White (36%) and Asian-American women (30%).
Economic inequality is significant in California, as well as nationwide. There are a number of different ways to measure economic inequality, but one such measure is the ratio of the average household income of the top 1% of wage earners (first percentile) to the bottom 99% of wage earners (99th percentile): the larger the ratio, the greater the earning inequality. California is one of nine states with an income inequality that exceeds that of the U.S.; it has the seventh largest inequality in income of any state in the nation.
The top 1% of California wage earners have an income 29 times that of the bottom 99%.
In California, 7% of all veterans have an income below the federal poverty level compared to 14% of non-veterans. However, since just over 92% of California’s veterans are men, this poverty rate masks the percentage of women veterans who are living in poverty.
Across the United States, female veterans experience a higher rate of poverty than their male counterparts: 10% of women and 7% of men who are veterans live in poverty. While female veterans experience a higher rate of poverty than men, they fare much better than female non-veterans: 10% of female veterans live in poverty compared to 15% of non-veterans.
The 2016 elections brought opportunities in women’s political leadership as well as setbacks in the state of California. This was a historic election for women’s representation, as Californians joined the rest of Americans in an election with the first female presidential candidate of a major party on the ballot. Californians also had the historic choice between the state’s first Latina and the first African-American female U.S. Senator. Additionally, Californians voted for state legislative offices which have now reached the lowest level of female representation since 1998.
In 2016, Donald J. Trump became the 45th President of the United States by receiving 304 votes in the Electoral College to Hillary Clinton’s 227 votes. In a rare outcome, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by approximately 2.8 million votes: 48.1% of the popular vote with 65,844,610 ballots cast for Clinton to 46.0% of the popular vote with 62,979,636 ballots cast for Trump. Clinton received 61.7% to Donald Trump’s 31.6% of the state’s presidential vote. As a result, Clinton received all 55 of California’s Electoral College votes.
California voters on the coasts and most populous cities overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump performed his best in parts of Riverside and San Bernardino counties (the “Inland Empire”) and inland areas of central and northern California.
The 2017 Congress of the United States will be comprised of 104 women, maintaining an all-time high of 19% female representation in Congress. Twenty-one women senators from across the U.S. and 83 representatives have been elected to serve in the 115th Congress. California’s delegation will be comprised of 35% women: both senators and 17 of the 53 representatives are women.
California Women in the U.S. Senate
California experienced a historic election for U.S. Senate in 2016 prompted by the retiring of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, who became a United States Senator in January 1993 after 10 years of service in the House of Representatives. Her retirement caused a vacancy that was filled using the California “Top Two” primary, which pitted two Democratic women against one another in the general election. Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez ran to be the first Latina elected to the
U.S. Senate from California and Attorney General Kamala Harris, who has a multi-racial heritage, ran to be both the first African-American woman and the first Asian American elected to the U.S. Senate from California. Attorney General Kamala Harris was elected to the U.S. Senate, winning 61.6% of the vote.
Newly-elected Senator Harris will join Senator Dianne Feinstein, continuing California’s long-standing record of both California Senators being women. This began in the 1992 “Year of the Woman” with the election of both Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein in the same year, making California the first state to send two women to the Senate from the same state at the same time. Senator Feinstein will be up for re-election in 2018.
California Women in the U.S. House of Representatives
The number of California women serving in the House of Representatives delegation declined by two seats in 2016, going from 19 to 17 female representatives; women will comprise 32% of the 2017 California House of Representatives delegation. California women Representatives serving in the U.S. Congress were generally re-elected to their seats, but women challengers failed to prevail:
All 53 members of the California Congressional delegation were up for reelection in 2016 and given the California “Top Two” primary system, California had a total of 106 candidates in the general election for the House of Representatives. Only 25 of 106 candidates (24%) were female. These election results echo a frequently-cited fact by the director of the Center for American Women and Politics, that when women run for office, they win as often as men do.
California Statewide Office
In the history of California, only eight women have been elected to serve in the Executive Branch of California’s government. Two of these eight women, Attorney General Kamala Harris and Controller Betty Yee, were serving in office just prior to the 2016 election. With the election of Attorney General Kamala Harris to the U.S. Senate, the number of women currently holding statewide office was reduced to four, as Governor Brown appointed Congressman Xavier Becerra, a man, to the position of California Attorney General to replace Senator Harris. California has never had a female governor.
California State Legislature
In 2016, half of the California State Senate (all odd districts) and all members of the California State Assembly were up for reelection. Following the election of 2014, California reached the lowest level of female representation in the state since 1998. This trend was worse following the 2016 election, as four of 12 female State Senators were termed out and six of 19 Assemblywomen were termed out.
Women lost a total of four seats in the California legislature in 2016: two female State Senators and two State Assemblywomen. In 2017, only 22% of the California State Legislature will be female. One bright spot for women’s representation in the state is that the number of Latinas in the California State Legislature will double from five to ten members.
Female members of the Democratic Party continue to be the majority of women elected to the California Legislature, which is reflective of the Democratic supermajority achieved as a result of the 2016 election:
According to data compiled by California Women Lead, the number of women holding County Board of Supervisors seats increased by nine seats, making a statewide total of 76 seats, or 26% female. The number of counties with female majorities on their Board of Supervisors increased to five (Contra Costa, Los Angeles, Marin, San Francisco and Sonoma). However, the number of counties with no women on their Board of Supervisors is 14 (down from 15 counties in 2014).
In 2015, California Women Lead and The League of Cities Women’s Caucus released a comprehensive report on the status of women in local elected politics. They found that women are vastly underrepresented in local government among California’s 482 cities:
Of the 12 largest cities in California, with populations over 300,000, Oakland has the highest percentage of women serving on its city council (55%) and Los Angeles, Sacramento and Bakersfield have only one woman on the council. Riverside has no women on its council.
With municipal elections taking place throughout the state of California in 2017, there are important opportunities to increase the number of women in local elected office. Electing more women to local office is also an important stepping stone to electing more women to state and federal offices.
In 2016, there were estimated to be just over 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the United States. Nearly 1.5 million of these businesses are located in California, the largest number of women-owned businesses in any single state. California’s women-owned businesses employ just over one million people and generate an annual revenue of $222 billion. Despite women’s success in owning businesses, they continue to be underrepresented in the executive suite of publicly held companies. Among California’s 400 largest publicly held companies, women hold only 13% of director seats and account for only 10.5% of the highest-paid executives.
California is home to the greatest number of women-owned firms in the country; in 2016 there were estimated to be 1,464,500 women-owned businesses (WOBs). California is the only state in which there are one million or more women-owned firms.
Since 2007, the number of women-owned firms in California has increased 41%. Employment by these firms has increased by over 10% and sales revenue has increased by 20%. Nationally, the number of women-owned businesses has grown by 45%, compared to a 9% increase in growth among all businesses.
Ethnicity and Race
Over half (60%) of California’s women-owned businesses are owned or majority-owned by women of color from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds.
The proportion of WOBs owned by women of color in California has grown from 45% in 2007 to 60% in 2016.
In 2007, Latinas owned 20% of women-owned businesses; in 2016, Latinas owned 30% of women-owned businesses. Over this same timeframe (2007-2016), African-American women have increased ownership of women-owned businesses from 6% to 8% and ownership by Asian-American women has increased from 17% to 20%.
Nationally, women are majority owners of 38% of the country’s businesses. They own more than half of the businesses providing healthcare and social assistance (64%), and educational services (55%).
Women continue to be underrepresented in higher levels of corporate management across the state and nation. The 400 largest companies headquartered in California (measured by market capitalization) are known as California’s Fortune 400. Among these companies, 4% have a woman serving as the chief executive officer; among the top 25 companies, 44% have a woman as CEO. A woman serves as chief financial officer (CFO) in 13% of California’s Fortune 400.
Across the United States, close to half of entry-level positions (46%) are held by women, but only one in three is a senior manager or director, and fewer than one in five (19%) executives in the C-suite (e.g., CEO, CFO, CIO) are women.
Women tend to be prominent in higher levels of management in the healthcare industries. When healthcare and pharmaceutical industries are combined, half of all senior managers/directors and one in four executives in the C-suite are women.
Companies with the highest percentage of female directors have been shown to perform better on return on equity, have a superior average valuation and tend to be more innovative. And those with more women at the top have been shown to experience fewer governance scandals, such as bribery and fraud.
Across the U.S., women are gaining more representation on corporate boards of active Fortune 1000 companies, the largest U.S. companies ranked by total revenue. In 2016, women held 20% of board seats, a slight increase from 19% in 2015 and up from 15% in 2011.
Of the 3,260 director seats in California’s Fortune 400, 432 (13%) are held by women and 2,828 (87%) are held by men.
California’s Fortune 400 includes over 30 companies in the healthcare industry. One of these companies has a woman as CEO. Within California’s largest companies in the healthcare industry, 48% report women among their highest-paid executives. Of these healthcare companies, 13% of all directors are women and 70% of companies have one or more women directors. In addition to healthcare companies, three pharmaceutical companies in California’s Fortune 400 have a female CEO.
Diversifying Corporate Boards
To encourage diversity and gender representation on corporate boards, California passed a resolution in 2013 urging corporations to achieve a level of at least 20% women on all boards by December 2016. As of December 2015, 18% of California’s Fortune 400 had met the goals of the resolution.
A recent survey of corporate directors found increasing board diversity has gained prominence: 96% view adding board diversity as at least somewhat important. However, many boards recruit candidates from a pool of current or former CEOs. Since CEOs are not a diverse group (only 4% of current Standard and Poor’s 500 CEOs are women, and only 1% of Fortune 500 CEOs are African American), this recruitment practice limits the progress of diversification.
Physical and mental health affect every aspect of a person’s life. Women have lower rates of diabetes, higher blood pressure and rates of heart disease, and a longer life expectancy than men. On the other hand, they report higher rates of depression, psychiatric disorders and stress. Among California women, disparities based on race/ethnicity, education, or socio-economic level persist in many diseases and indicators of health.
Across the state and the nation, women live longer than men. In California, women outlive men by almost five years. California women can also expect to outlive women across the U.S. by nearly two years.
Leading Causes of Death
The leading causes of death among all California women are primarily malignant neoplasms (cancers) and diseases of the heart, followed by Alzheimer’s disease as a distant third cause.
However, the leading causes of death vary with the age of the woman:
Cancers appear among the top 10 causes of death of women across all age groups. Two cancers that disproportionately affect women are breast cancer and cervical cancer (which only affects women). The death rate of California women from these cancers is roughly the same or very slightly lower than the national death rate.
Roughly 10 times as many women die from breast cancer as from cervical cancer. The death rate for breast cancer has shown a decrease over time, while the death rate of cervical cancer has remained constant. Behind both these death rates, however, are racial/ethnic disparities, with deaths among African-American women the highest for both of these cancers. When the death rate of cervical cancer is corrected for the prevalence of hysterectomy, the rates for all women increase and the racial disparity widens.
African-American and White women die at a greater rate from breast cancer than the other groups reported here, yet they report the highest rates of screening for breast cancer. Seventy-two percent of White women in California and 67% of African-American women report having had a mammogram in the past two years; 65% of all California women report similar screening.
Cervical cancer may be prevented by the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine. In 2014, over 40% of California girls 13–15 years of age report being compliant with the recommended vaccination.
While women are slightly less likely than men to be diagnosed with diabetes, the disease is among the top 10 leading causes of death among California women. Diabetes is a serious disease with an increasing pervasiveness: the prevalence of California adults diagnosed with diabetes has increased 35% between 2001 and 2012. A recent study estimates that 46% of all Californians have undiagnosed diabetes or a pre-diabetic condition.
Both diabetic and pre-diabetic conditions disproportionately affect minority groups. In 2011–2012, it was found that roughly 5% of Whites (of non-Hispanic origin) suffered from diabetes compared to 6% Asian Americans, 9% African Americans and 11% Latinos.
In the past 12 months, more women than men were affected by asthma:
California women have a slightly lower rate of obesity than men: 24% of California women are obese compared to 25% of California men. The rates mask variations in obesity prevalence by race and gender.
Asian American and White women have a lower rate of obesity than their male counterparts, while African-American and women who identify with two or more races have a higher rate of obesity than their male counterparts.
California women tend to be less physically active than men: 10% of women and 7% of men report being physically active less than one hour per week. Nine percent of women and 15% of men report being active for at least one hour on every day of the week.
Regular physical activity is one of the most important things Americans can do to maintain their weight and improve their health. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults 18–64 years of age engage in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity over the course of a week and some muscle-strengthening exercises on two or more days each week. Analyses of the National Health Interview Surveys (2008 and 2013) indicate that 20% of all adults in the U.S. — 17% of women and 27% of men — meet the Physical Activity Guidelines.
In addition to physical activity, healthy eating patterns are critical in promoting a healthy body weight and preventing/managing several chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
The 2015–2020 dietary guidelines have been updated to include three different healthy eating patterns: the typical U.S. eating pattern, a Mediterranean-style diet and a vegetarian pattern. Specific guidelines for consumption vary based on caloric intake and age; however, fundamental to all healthy eating patterns are fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, grains and oils. Additionally, all healthy eating patterns limit saturated fats, added sugars and sodium.
The United States population consumes far less from recommended food groups than the dietary guidelines call for. In particular, women and men across the U.S. eat fewer fresh vegetables and fruits than the daily recommended intake of 2–3 cup-equivalents of each group.
Most of the U.S. population’s diet exceeds recommendations for added sugars, saturated fats and sodium.
Women in California are more likely to consume one or more daily servings of fresh vegetables and fruit than men.
Two-thirds (66%) of California women report having had two or more servings of fruits in the previous day; among women of different racial/ethnic groups, however, rates of fruit intake differ.
Latinas and White (non-Hispanic) women are the most likely to have had two or more servings in the previous day, while African-American and Asian-American women are the least likely.
Meeting these guidelines can be difficult, particularly for minorities and low-income individuals. In many neighborhoods, access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables may be limited. While women in California are more likely than men to find fresh fruits and vegetables usually or always available in their neighborhood (77% and 73%, respectively), women reporting the most consistent access to fresh fruits and vegetables varies by race/ethnicity.
White (non-Hispanic) women report the most consistent access (91%) and Latinas report the least consistent access to fresh fruits and vegetables (85%).
Among women who eat fresh vegetables and fruits that are accessible in their neighborhoods, White women are most likely to always be able to find affordable fruits and vegetables (51%) and Latinas are least likely (39%). While 44% of African-American women are “always able to find fresh fruits and vegetables affordable in neighborhood,” they are the most likely to report that fresh fruits and vegetables are “never affordable in neighborhood” (3%).
Although births in California decreased from 2007 to 2013, they increased to 503,000 in 2014; this number represents roughly 13% of all births across the nation. In 2015, 48% of California births were to Latinas, 29% to White women,
5% to African Americans and 16% to Asian/Pacific Islanders.
Newborns Living in Poverty
California’s babies are disproportionately born to families living in poverty. While 14% of California women ages 18-64 years live below the federal poverty level (FPL), 41% of new babies were born to women living in poverty; another 21% are born to mothers who are living just above the poverty line (100–200% of the federal poverty level).
Mothers with newborns who live in poverty are more likely to be unmarried than married and one in three did not complete high school.
Births by Cesarean Section
Approximately one in three of all births in California and the nation are by cesarean section. Cesarean delivery brings increased risks of complications for mothers (including ruptured uterus and unplanned hysterectomy) as well as to newborns (e.g., increased risk of respiratory complications and breastfeeding difficulties).
In 2015, one in four first-time California mothers delivered by cesarean section; these rates vary by race/ethnicity of the mother, with a greater proportion of first-time African-American mothers undergoing surgical delivery.
The response in California to unnecessary cesarean sections includes the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative, which produced an educational Toolkit to Support Vaginal Birth and Reduce Primary Cesareans. In addition, the California Health Care Foundation is partnering with several other health-serving organizations to promote higher value maternal care by reducing the rate of unnecessary C-sections for low-risk deliveries.
Breastfeeding in California
Breastfeeding has several demonstrated benefits to both the infant and mother: for example, breastfeeding helps boost an infant’s resistance to disease and infection and helps mothers recover faster from giving birth. Two-thirds of California newborns were exclusively breastfed while in the hospital. However, there were variations in breastfeeding rates of infants along racial/ethnic lines. The rates of exclusive breastfeeding while in the hospital are:
California passed legislation in 2013 (SB-402) requiring all acute care facilities and special hospitals with a perinatal unit in the state to adopt the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding” by 2025. In 2016, 85 out of 251 California hospitals that offer maternity care had been designated as Baby-Friendly Hospitals.
While the maternal mortality rate has increased across the U.S. since 2007, California’s numbers decreased from 2008–2012, but showed a slight uptick in 2013. However, significant racial disparities exist within the state, with African-American mothers continuing to have more than three times the rate of maternal mortality of White women.
The California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative gathers and analyzes data to determine contributing factors and degree of preventability of pregnancy-related mortality; in addition, the California Partnership for Maternal Safety ensured that hospitals and professional schools of medicine and nursing have information regarding standardized care for maternal health.
California’s overall infant mortality rate is lower than the U.S. rate, but wide disparities based on race and ethnicity persist.
African-American babies die at four times the rate of Asian-American babies and at twice the average rate of all babies. Although not included in the chart above, California infants of two or more races have the highest mortality rate (11.9 per 1000 live births).
In the wake of the passage and implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the insurance rate for women has improved, much more so than men. In 2014, 91% of California’s women and 85% of men were insured. Among women, rates of insurance coverage vary by race/ethnicity, but more than 85% of all groups report being insured:
Half (49.7%) of California births are covered by state Medi-Cal insurance, 44.5% by private insurance and the rest either uninsured or self pay. Over half (54%) of California’s pregnant mothers received support through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), a program that provides supplemental food for women.
Women across the nation are more likely than men to have visited a doctor for a routine checkup in the past year (69% and 64%, respectively). California women are more likely than men to delay care (13% and 9%, respectively). Among California women who delayed medical care, just over half (51%) cited cost or lack of insurance as the reason: 59% of Latinas, 50% of White women, 37% of Asian-American women and 35% of African-American women delayed care due to cost or lack of insurance. Fifteen percent of women and 12% of men indicated that there had been a time in the past 12 months when they needed to see a doctor but could not because of cost.
Substance Abuse and Treatment
Overall, in 2014 there were more California men than women being treated for substance abuse; however, there were slightly more women than men in treatment for the abuse of sedatives and tranquilizers.
In 2014, there were over 21,000 California women in treatment for abusing amphetamines making it the primary drug of abuse among women; heroin is the second most common drug of abuse, with nearly 12,000 women being treated.
In the United States, suicides were the 10th leading cause of death in 2014. The annual overall suicide rate for 2014 was 13.4 per 100,000 individuals nationwide; the suicide rate for women was 6.0 (per 100,000 women). Although men are over three times more likely to commit suicide, women are more likely to attempt suicide: for every male suicide attempt, there are three female attempts.
The suicide rate varies by age group, but across the U.S. men are more likely than women to commit suicide in all age groups under 75 years. The suicide rate for females is highest for those between 45–64 years of age; for males, men over 75 years of age have the highest rate of suicide, with those between 45–64 years having the second-highest rate.
Across the U.S., suicide rates have increased over the past 15 years for both females and males in all age groups under 75 years. In general, the degree of increase in suicide rate has been greater for females than for males. Females between the ages of 10–14 had the largest percentage increase of 200%, while the highest increase for males (43%) was between the ages of 45–64.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescent youth between the ages of 15–19 years. In 2013, there were 452 California females and males between ages 15–24 years who committed suicide; 98 (21%) of these deaths were girls.
In California, high school girls were more likely than boys to have suicidal ideations: 22% of girls reported thoughts of suicide compared to 14% of boys. A national survey of high school students released in 2015 found that one in six students across the U.S. had seriously considered suicide and one in 13 attempted the previous year. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youths report higher rates of suicide attempts than heterosexual youths.
Among college students, a rise in reporting of suicidal ideation has been coupled with an increase in utilization of counseling services. Undergraduates indicated that they had either considered suicide, attempted suicide, or engaged in self-harming behaviors at least once within the last 12 months.
Among the general population, more women than men have thoughts about committing suicide; however, undergraduate respondents’ reports of suicidal ideation and attempts showed no gender difference. While reported suicidal ideation and attempts were comparable between the two genders, other self-harming behaviors (cutting, burning or bruising oneself) were reported more highly by women.
College/University Student Stress and Emotional Health
Growth in the number of students accessing mental health counseling services on college campuses across the nation has far exceeded the growth in institutional enrollments for the last several years. The top five concerns presented among those seeking counseling on campus are anxiety, depression, stress, family and specific relationship problems.
When surveyed about feelings experienced in the last 12 months, undergraduate women reported negative feelings at a greater rate than men, with many differing by a gap of more than 10%.
Depression, feeling overwhelmed and other negative feelings may result from any number of stressors: academic, co-curricular, familial, relationship or physical health struggles. Over half (52%) of women and 41% of men surveyed cited academic concerns as “traumatic” or “difficult.”
All of the above were reported at higher percentages by women undergraduates, with academics, family problems and personal appearance showing the larger gaps between genders.
The gender gap in financial worry has been found to hold up across institutional types (public and private, two-year and four-year); additionally, women across all family income levels — from less than $10,000 to more than $250,000 — are more likely than are their male counterparts to anticipate working to help their families pay for college. The worry over financing college via loans and other necessary alternative funding sources has been linked to “stress proliferation” and poorer psychological functioning, thus negatively affecting the mental health and well-being of college students.
In addition to specific stressors and feelings, reports of general stress levels and their symptoms (such as sleeplessness) show consistent gender difference. When asked about their general stress levels, male students were more likely to report less-than-average or no stress than were their female counterparts, while females were more likely than males to report more-than-average or tremendous stress.
Sleep and Stress
A common indicator of stress levels is sleep or lack thereof. The differences in patterns of sleep among women and men undergraduates are aligned with differences in their reported stress, with women reporting a greater frequency of sleep deprivation than men. More men than women reported getting enough sleep and feeling rested. More undergraduate women than men report difficulty in sleeping (32% and 27%, respectively).
Only 10% of undergraduate women and 14% of men reported getting enough sleep for six or seven days of the week; 20% of women and 14% of men reported a “big” or “very big problem” with feeling sleepy during the day.
Violence against women continues to be a major problem affecting individuals from around the world, including California. Exposure to violence can lead to short and long-term physical and mental health issues, as well as economic and social issues. Violence against women comes in many forms, such as intimate partner violence, sexual violence, hate crimes, human trafficking and bullying.
Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is described as behavior by an intimate partner or ex-partner that “causes physical, sexual or psychological harm, including physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse and controlling behaviors.” More women than men report being victims of violence by an intimate partner: 36% of women and 29% of men in the U.S. report having been a victim of IPV in their lifetime.
Forty-two percent of women who have experienced IPV reported some type of injury resulting from the violence. In addition, victims of IPV can experience serious health issues such as unintended pregnancies, gynecological and reproductive issues, increased risk for sexually transmitted diseases (including human immunodeficiency virus), increased risk of suicide, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, substance abuse problems, and pain. Pregnant women who experience IPV can experience miscarriages, low-birth-weight babies, pre-term deliveries and stillbirth.
In the 2011 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), just over one in four women report having experienced sexual or physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner. Nationally, 36% of women across the U.S. report being subjected to rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner compared to 33% of California women.
In addition to self-reported data, calls for assistance in domestic violence incidents provide a source of information relative to IPV. In 2015, there were 162,302 domestic violence-related calls for assistance made in California. Just over 42% of these calls involved a weapon, and a personal weapon (hands, fists and feet) was used in the vast majority (80%) of incidents. In just five years (2011-2015), the number of domestic violence-related calls where a weapon was involved has increased by 11%.
Across the U.S., an estimated 19% of women, compared with 2% of men, report having been raped during their lifetimes. Nearly one in two women (44%) report having experienced other forms of sexual violence, compared with 23% of men.
In 2015, there were 12,793 rape crimes reported in California: 11,827 rapes and 966 attempts to commit rape. There were 2,467 felony arrests for rape; 98% of those arrested were men.
A change of the definition of rape in 2014 expands the crimes to now apply to both female and male victims; the 2014 data are based on the historic definition of rape, preventing a valid comparison of 2015 reports to earlier years.
Sexual Violence on University/College Campuses
A 2016 survey of over 18,000 college freshmen in 54 institutions across the U.S. revealed gender differences in the perception of safety on college campuses. Twenty-four percent of women respondents frequently or occasionally felt unsafe on campus, compared to 16% of men. Additionally, 27% of women compared to 21% of men felt that sexual violence was prevalent on their campus.
In a national survey of students at 27 universities, 12% of student respondents reported having experienced some type of nonconsensual sexual contact while at university. However, the percentage of students reporting depends on gender identification: women and people identifying as transgender, questioning, or other (TGQN) were more likely to be victims than men. Statistics also are a function of level of study: undergraduates report nonconsensual sexual contact to a greater degree than graduate or professional students.
More than 50% of victims reported they did not report the incident to the authorities because they felt it was not “serious enough.” Other reasons for not reporting included feeling “embarrassed, ashamed, that it would be too emotionally difficult,” or that they “did not think anything would be done about it.” Wide variation was seen across the institutions.
The U.S. Department of Education data on campus safety and security shows records of California public university data including all University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) campuses. The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (2014) mandates reporting for specific incidences involving women victims. In 2014, on all UC and CSU campuses, 104 cases of domestic violence, 81 cases of dating violence and 133 incidences of stalking were reported on campus. Prior to 2014, the categories for reporting of sexual misconduct were titled “Sex offences forcible.” In 2012, there were 164 criminal “sex offences, forcible” cases reported; in 2013, 211 cases reported. In 2014, there were 175 criminal cases of sexual misconduct titled rape, and 100 criminal cases titled fondling.
Veterans and Women in the Military
Sexual violence has been a pervasive problem in many academic and career environments, including the U.S. military. In fiscal year 2015, the military services received just over 6,000 reports of sexual assault involving a service member as either a victim or perpetrator, representing a 1% decrease in reports made in 2014. The military notes a very low reporting rate of sexual violence by males. While women report at a much higher rate, it is noteworthy that of the 566 formally substantiated sexual violence cases resolved in 2015, 80% of the victims were women; in 3% of the cases, women were the perpetrator.
Hate crimes are criminal offenses that are motivated by a bias against “a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or gender identity.”
In 2015, there were 837 hate crime events in California, representing a 10% increase from 2014.
Just over half (51%) of hate crimes are motivated by a bias against the race/ethnicity or national origin of the victim, with most of these crimes directed against African Americans. Among crimes motivated by a religious bias, 51% are directed against Jews and 21% are directed against Muslims. Fifty-seven percent of hate crimes with a sexual-orientation bias are directed against gay men and 13% are against lesbians. Eighty-nine percent of all crimes with a gender bias are directed against transgender persons.
Human trafficking continues to be a growing problem. Globally, it is estimated that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking: 55% are women and girls. The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act 2015 was passed in the United States in response to the increase in sex trafficking and strengthens the response and services for victims of sex trafficking.
As of Sept. 30, 2016, there were 5,748 cases of human trafficking in the United States; 1,012 (18%) of reported cases were in California. The vast majority of victims (89%) in California’s human trafficking cases are women and girls.
In 2015, there were 141 children between the ages of 10 and 17 arrested for prostitution in California: 135 girls (96%) and six boys (4%). Seventy-two percent of these children were African-American girls. As of Jan. 1, 2017, children in California under the age of 18 engaged in prostitution are considered victims of sex trafficking and can no longer be charged with prostitution.
Bullying is defined by the CDC as “any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners involving an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated.” A 2011 study concluded that boys who are bullies are nearly four times as likely as non-bullies to physically or sexually abuse their female partners in adulthood. Victims of bullying may suffer emotional and/or physical harm, and are more likely to develop depression later in life.
In general, a greater percentage of girls than boys in grades 9-12 report being bullied — both electronically (using sources such as emails, chat rooms, social media, instant messaging, texting or various websites) and while on school property.
The table above indicates bullying is slightly less prevalent in California than the nation as a whole. For both California and across the U.S.:
Bullying among schoolmates is sometimes thought of as a form of aggression in childhood that decreases as children mature. In California K–12 public schools, 39% of those in the 7th grade, 34% of those in the 9th grade, and 28% of those in the 11th grade report being bullied.
California is home to one of the oldest and largest film and television industries in the nation. In general, when films have at least one female director, the percentage of women writers, editors and cinematographers increases. However, in 2015 women continued to hold less than one in five of the key behind-the-scenes roles across the U.S. film industry. Only one in three of major on-screen characters in the top 100 films was a woman, and nearly three-fourths of these women were White. In these top 100 films, women spoke and appeared roughly half as often as male characters.
In the television industry, women held just over one in four key behind-the-scenes positions; they comprised 38% of major characters appearing on television, with nearly three-fourths of these portrayed as White women.
In 2015, female content creators in the U.S. held 19% of the key positions in film, 25% of these roles in independent films screened at top festivals and 26% of them in television.
Overall, women are employed in greatest proportion as producers. The percentage of women directing the 100 highest-grossing films has more than doubled since 2007: in 2007, 3% of directors were women; in 2015, just under 8% are women. While the proportion of female directors is greatest in independent films, U.S. film festivals screen three times more men’s films than women’s.
In general, both top-grossing and independent films with at least one female director have a greater percentage of women working as writers, editors and cinematographers than films with no female director. In the top 500 films with at least one female director, women comprised 53% of writers; in films with only male directors, women accounted for 10% of writers. Among television programs that had at least one woman creator, the writing staff was 51% female; programs with only male creators had 16% female writers.
The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at Mount Saint Mary’s University, in partnership with Google and USC Viterbi School of Engineering, developed the Geena Davis Inclusion Quotient (GD-IQ) to more accurately measure gender representation in film. Using the tool, the Institute reports that “female characters continue to be underrepresented in popular film, and when they are present, they have far less screen time and speaking time” than their male counterparts.
In the 100 top-grossing films of 2015 there were 2.2 male characters to every one female character. On average, male characters spoke nearly two times as often as female characters (28% and 15%, respectively) and received nearly twice the amount of screen time (29% and 16%, respectively). However, the gender disparity between screen and speaking time depends on the gender of the lead character.
In films with a female lead character, there is gender parity relative to the amount of screen time and speaking time of women and men. The greatest gender disparity is in films where a man has the lead.
Across film and television, women of color are vastly underrepresented on screen; nearly three-fourths of all female characters are White.
Thirty-nine percent of all speaking characters on television and 33% of those in the 100 top-grossing films were women. In 2015–16, African-American women represented 16% of female characters on television screens, while Asian-American women and Latinas each occupied 4% of roles.
In recent years, on-screen characters have become slightly more diverse in both film and television. Among the top 100 highest-grossing films, the prevalence of White female and male characters has dropped from 78% in 2007 to 74% in 2015 and the proportion of Latinos has increased from 3% to 5%. Focusing on 2015-16 broadcast television programs only, 71% of female characters were portrayed as White and 17% as African American — a recent historical high for African-American women.
Box office figures for the 100 top-grossing non-animated films of 2015 showed that films featuring women grossed 19% more than films led by men. While this finding may not be more broadly representative of 2015 films, for the 100 top-grossing films:
Films with male and female characters who co-lead earned more on average than films with male or female leads alone.
Helen Boutrous, PhD, is the chair and associate professor in the Department of History and Political Science at Mount Saint Mary’s University. She received her PhD in American Government from Georgetown University, her JD from the University of San Diego School of Law and her bachelor’s in economics from UCLA. Dr. Boutrous’ teaching areas include American government, politics and law. Her research focuses on regulatory process and policy. She has been at Mount Saint Mary’s since 2004.
Eleanor Siebert, PhD, is professor emerita and former provost and academic vice president of Mount Saint Mary’s. She is a fellow of the American Chemical Society and active in accrediting colleges and universities in the western U.S. Dr. Siebert serves on the board of directors of the Southern California “Expanding Your Horizons” collaborative, which has the express purpose of encouraging middle school girls to pursue science and mathematics courses. She is a former board member of the National Science Teachers Association and has served as chief reader of the Advanced Placement Program in chemistry. Dr. Siebert has served at the University for more than 40 years.
Carol Johnston, PhD, is an associate professor of education in the University’s Secondary Teacher Preparation program. She received her PhD in science education from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Dr. Johnston’s research interests include interactions between scientists and K-12 science teachers, particularly in the area of environmental science and sustainability. She also has prior experience as a chemical engineer and as a teacher of physics, chemistry and math at the high school level. Johnston has served as a faculty member in Mount Saint Mary’s Education Department for more than seven years. In addition to serving as a Report editor, she also authored the Education chapter.
Sarah Shealy, MSN, assistant professor of nursing, teaches in Mount Saint Mary’s accelerated BSN program. She earned her BA in Chinese studies from Wellesley College and her MSN from Yale University School of Nursing. An expert in women’s health, Shealy is a certified nurse-midwife and a board-certified lactation consultant. She has served as faculty since 2006. Her research interests include the use of art to enhance clinical observation skills in nursing students. In addition to being a member of the Report’s editing team, Shealy co-authored the Health chapter.
Robin Bishop, PhD, is an assistant professor in Mount Saint Mary’s graduate Psychology program, where she coordinates the Master’s program in General Counseling Psychology. She received her bachelor’s in psychology from California State University, Northridge, her master’s degree in Student Affairs counseling at UCLA, and her PhD in education at USC. Her research centers on racial equity issues in higher education. Dr. Bishop has served as a faculty member at Mount Saint Mary’s for three years and previously worked in student service roles for 10 years. She co-authored the Health chapter for this year’s Report.
Madeleine D. Bruning, EdD, is an associate professor of nursing at Mount Saint Mary’s, as well as an assistant professor of clinical pediatrics at USC’s Keck School of Medicine. She is an advanced practice, nationally certified pediatric nurse practitioner in primary pediatrics. Her expertise is in caring for underserved, medically marginalized children and families, with a focus on the special needs of children of veteran families. Dr. Bruning serves as student veteran liaison at Mount Saint Mary’s, develops strategies for re-integration of veteran students into higher education and leads multiple collaborative efforts with USC Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families, and the School of Social Work. She has taught at Mount Saint Mary’s for two decades, and authored the Veterans research in this Report.
Jackie Filla, PhD, is an associate professor of political science at the University. She earned her bachelor’s degree from California State University, Fullerton, and her MA and PhD in political science from the University of California, Riverside. Dr. Filla, who came to the Mount four years ago, also plays a key role in organizing Mount Saint Mary’s annual Ready
to Run™ program, a nonpartisan campaign training designed to equip more women to run for elective office and get involved in public service. She authored the chapters in this year’s Report on Employment & Earnings and Political Leadership.
Michelle French, EdD, is an associate professor and director of Mount Saint Mary’s Department of Business Administration in the University’s Associate in Arts Programs. Dr. French earned her MBA and EdD in organizational leadership from Pepperdine University. Her research interests include well-being in organizations and meaning-mission fit — the process through which people find and fulfill their meaning in life and work. Dr. French has taught at Mount Saint Mary’s for 11 years. She authored the Women & Business chapter.
Shani Habibi, PhD, is an assistant professor of psychology in the University’s Graduate Division psychology program. She is a licensed clinical psychologist who received her PhD in clinical psychology, with an emphasis in multicultural communications, from the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University. Dr. Habibi’s main research interests include gender differences and substance use. She has taught at Mount Saint Mary’s for five years now, and co-authored the Health chapter in this year’s Report.
Nicole Amber Haggard, PhD, is an assistant professor in Mount Saint Mary’s Department of Film, Media and Communication. She received her doctorate in American studies from Saint Louis University, culminating in the interdisciplinary doctoral project, “Race, Sex and Hollywood” which traces how the historical intersection of race and gender in the motion picture industry has impacted modern American cinema. Dr. Haggard’s current research and teaching revolves around diversity and social justice in U.S. culture; she also works as a media diversity and inclusion consultant. Dr. Haggard joined Mount Saint Mary’s in 2015, and authored the Film & Television chapter.
Stephen Inrig, PhD, is director of health policy and management in Mount Saint Mary’s Graduate Division, and also serves as director of interdisciplinary healthcare research. He earned his PhD in the history of medicine and health policy from Duke University, and his MS in clinical sciences from the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School. Dr. Inrig conducts research on the social determinants of health and the influence of health policies on vulnerable populations. His peer-reviewed research has explored the role of local, state, federal and global policy on people at risk for HIV, cancer and mental illness. He came to the University in 2014; he authored the Poverty chapter and was the lead author of the Health chapter.
Abigail Rea, MSN, has been a full-time instructor in Mount Saint Mary’s traditional bachelor’s of science in nursing program for five years. She earned her BSN from Northern Illinois University and her MSN from the University of Colorado as a clinical nurse specialist in forensic nursing. For the past 14 years, Rea has worked as a Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE), providing specialized nursing care to survivors of sexual assault. She is employed as a SAFE for the Rape Treatment Center at UCLA Santa Monica Hospital. Rea wrote the chapter on Violence.
Ann McElaney-Johnson, PhD, President
Robert Perrins, PhD, Provost and Academic Vice President
Stephanie Cubba, DPA, Vice President for Institutional Advancement
Kimberly Kenny, Associate Vice President for Institutional Advancement
Emerald Archer, PhD, Director, Center for the Advancement of Women
Willow Bunu, MSI, Fact Checker and Research Assistant
Sarah Scopio, MA, Proofreader
Roberto San Luis, San Luis Design, Graphic Design
Debbie Ream, Director, Communications and Marketing
Pia Orense, Assistant Director, Communications and Marketing
Phillip Jordan, Manager, Communications and Marketing
Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at Mount Saint Mary’s University
The Report on the Status of Women & Girls in California™ is prepared annually by Mount Saint Mary’s University faculty experts and published through our Center for the Advancement of Women. As a women’s university, Mount Saint Mary’s is committed to ensuring that women are afforded equal opportunities to engage in society. We are driven by the fact that this research is regularly used by community advocates, educators and legislators to effect change across California and beyond.
To learn more about our Center for the Advancement of Women, contact Emerald Archer, PhD, director of the Center, at email@example.com or 213.477.2544.
For more information about sponsorship and partnership opportunities, contact Heather Schraeder, director of special events and public programs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 213.477.2761.
For media inquiries, contact Phillip Jordan, manager of communications and marketing, at email@example.com or 213.477.2506.
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