Several studies have found that women in high-powered careers are more likely than their male counterparts to be unmarried and childless.
According to a 2001 study entitled “High Achieving Women,” which surveyed a nationally representative sample of high-achieving working and non-working women and high-achieving men ages 28-55:
Between 33 and 42% (depending on industry) of high-achieving women (a phrase defined in the study) are childless at age 40 and only 14% by choice. Percentages are even higher among women of color.
High-achieving women are “extremely unlikely” to get married after age 35. Of women ages 41-55, only 8% were married after 30 and only 3% after 35.
Only 60% of high-achieving women ages 41-55 were currently married, and that figure falls to 57% in corporate America.
In contrast, 76% of men ages 41-55 are currently married. That figure rises to 83% for ultra-achieving men.
(National Parenting Association, “High-Achieving Women,” as published in Creating a Life by Sylvia Ann Hewlett)
In a 2001 study of senior and pipeline-level employees at securities firms:
86% of men but only 67% of women were married or with a partner.
74% of men but only 50% of women were parents.
79% of women have a partner or spouse who works full time but only 28% of men do.
(Catalyst, 2001 “Women in Financial Services: The Word on the Street”)
Women Opting Out and Opting In
According to the Census Bureau,
As of 2004, there were 5.5 million stay-at-home parents in the United States. 5.4 million of these were mothers and only 98,000 were fathers. 34% were mothers under age 35.
(U.S. Census Bureau, November 30, 2004 Press Release)
In a 2005 study entitled “Off-Ramps and On-Ramps: Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success,” which surveyed a nationally representative sample of highly qualified women and highly qualified men ages 28-55:
37% of highly qualified women (as defined in study) have opted out at some point in careers. Among mothers, that statistic rises to 43%.
93% of women who took time off from their careers wanted to return to work, but only 40% had returned.
When women returned to full-time jobs after time off, they lost an average of 18% of their earning power.
When a woman was out of work for 3 or more years, she lost, on average, 37% of her earning power when she returned to workforce.
When returning to work, 24% of women took part-time jobs and 9% became self-employed.
Only 5% of women trying to get back into their careers are interested in rejoining the companies they left. In business sectors, that percentage is zero.
(“Off-Ramps and On-Ramps: Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success,” 2005, as reported in article of same title by Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Carolyn Buck Luce in March 2005 issue of Harvard Business Review)
Women Business Owners
Women-owned businesses are on the rise.
48% (which translates to 10.6 million firms) of all privately-held U.S. firms are at least half-owned by a woman or women.
Between 1997 and 2004, firms owned 50% or more by women increased at nearly twice the rate of all firms (17% vs. 9%).
As of 2004, women of color owned an estimated 1.4 million privately-held firms in the United States. Women of color own 36% of all firms owned by persons of color.
(Center for Women’s Business Research, “Top Facts about Women-Owned Businesses”)
General Statistics on Women in the Workforce back to top
Women comprised 46% of the total U.S. labor force in 2005.
75% of employed women worked full-time in 2005. The remaining 25% worked part-time.
(U.S. Department of Labor, “Women in the Labor Force in 2005” and 2005 “Quick Stats”)