Are Women Now Half the Labor Force? The Truth about Women and Equal Participation in the Labor Force

Ashley English, Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D., Jeff Hayes, Ph.D.

March 31, 2010
  • ISBN:
  • ID: #C374

For more than a year the news media have been tracking the moment when women might become half the labor force. In spring 2009, it was said it might happen in the next few months, by summer it was said maybe it would happen in the fall. By one measure, women’s share of employment reached a high of 49.96 percent in October 2009; still 113,000 fewer women than men were counted on payrolls that month, and as of March 2010 the gap has grown to about 360,000 workers. Although still a statistically significant difference, a gap that small is nevertheless close to equality, especially when total payroll employment in the United States is measured at nearly 130,000,000.