Facts & Stats

Tracking Issues in Women’s Leadership

Keeping track of and analyzing the trends surrounding women in leadership allow us to celebrate the important roles that women play in our society, and to identify areas for improvement and focus. In this section of the site, we curate and share key facts and statistics about women and leadership from respected sources. Read about our inaugural Massachusetts Women’s Leadership Index here.

Did you know?

  • In the U.S., women represent 47% of the workforce and in 40% of families, women are the primary or sole breadwinner.1
  • Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to outperform competition.2
  • Women earn more bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in the U.S. than men.3
  • It has been reported that women control 70% of household spending, or $12 trillion, in developed countries around the world.4
  • Growth in women-owned businesses has outpaced the overall increase in new businesses by 1.5 times.5

And yet…

  • A significant gender wage gap still exists in the U.S. – in full-time workers; women earn 79% for every dollar a man earns, on average.6
  • Even among new college graduates, men out-earn women by 18%. Adjusted for the disparity as a result of different fields, the gap remains at 6%.7
  • Globally, women hold just 24% of senior leadership positions. The U.S. lags behind the global average at 21%, compared to China where women hold 51% of senior leadership slots.8
  • Women represent 45% of the S&P 500 workforce, but only 4% of the CEOs.9
  • In a study of nearly 22,000 publicly traded organizations worldwide, 60% have no female board members.10


1 Source: Pew Social Trends. “Breadwinner Moms;” May 29, 2013. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/05/29/breadwinner-moms/
2 Source: McKinsey & Co. (2015). http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/why-diversity-matters
3 Source: National Center for Education Statistics. Fast Facts: Degrees Conferred by Sex and Race, 2012. http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=72 
4 Source: Boston Consulting Group. Consumer Sentiment 2011: Navigating the New Consumer Realities. http://www.bcg.com/documents/file79398.pdf
5 Source: American Express OPEN. The 2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report. http://www.womenable.com/content/userfiles/Amex_OPEN_State_of_WOBs_2015_Executive_Report_finalsm.pdf
6 Source: AAUW.org (2014). http://www.aauw.org/what-we-do/public-policy/aauw-issues/gender-pay-gap/
7 Source: American Association of University Women. Graduating to a Pay Gap; 2012. http://www.aauw.org/files/2013/02/graduating-to-a-pay-gap-the-earnings-of-women-and-men-one-year-after-college-graduation.pdf
8 Source: Forbes Insight Study. C-Suite Sees More Female Leaders Reaching Top; March 8, 2013. http://www.forbes.com/sites/tatianaserafin/2013/03/08/c-suite-sees-more-female-leaders-reaching-top/
9 Source: Catalyst, 2016. http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/women-ceos-sp-500 Board Seats Held by Women, by Country; 2013. http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/board-seats-held-women-country
10 Source: Working paper from Peterson Institute for International Economics, 2016. http://www.piie.com/publications/wp/wp16-3.pdf