Women have made strides in the US workforce: Five charts

A profile of trends in women advancements – and gaps, for Women's History Month.
A profile of trends in women advancements – and gaps, for Women's History Month.

Women in the U.S. have come a long way since the 1950s.

Women now make up a larger percentage of the workforce, earn more money, and work in more well-paying positions. Still, part of the growth stopped recently, and there are some significant gender gaps in the highest levels of business and political leadership.

March is Women's History Month. Here are some insights into trends and data points provided by the Pew Research Center, which are based on federal data, surveys and analysis, to show trends for women in the workforce.

Almost half of workers are women

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women accounted for 47% of the civilian labor force in the U.S. in 2023, up from 30% in 1950. But growth has slowed. During the last century, the number of women working increased on average, although it has since tapered off.

According to the BLS projections, women will continue to dip to less than half of the labor force through 2032.

Read more: Celebrating USA TODAY'S Women of the Year

US women outnumber men among workers with college degrees

Statistics from the fourth quarter of 2023's Current Population Survey show that women outnumber men in the college-educated workforce in the U.S., making up 51% of people aged 25 and older.

Women have increased their presence in high-paying jobs

Women now make up around 35% of workers in the top 10 highest-paying jobs in the U.S., up from 13% in 1980, according to a November 2023 analysis of Census Bureau data.

Women continue to be underrepresented in nine of these jobs, despite recent advancements. Women make up 61% of pharmacists, which is an exception. Compared with the larger U.S. workforce, the percentage of women in the other nine occupations is still much lower.

Prep for the polls: Women aren't showing up to vote.

Earnings are about equal for husbands and wives

According to a March 2023 analysis of Census Bureau data, the percentage of women in opposite-sex marriages who earn as much as or more than their partner has roughly tripled over the past 50 years.

Put this way, in 85% of couples 50 years ago, the husband was the primary breadwinner. For marriages today, that number has fallen to 55%.

The gender pay gap hasn't moved much in recent years

The difference between men's and women's median earnings has remained relatively even in the U.S. for the past 20 years for those full- and part-time jobs for workers on hourly wages. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women earned 83 cents for every dollar men earned in 2022.

SOURCE Pew Research Center, U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics and USA TODAY research

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Women's History Month: Gender advancements and obstacles to overcome