The 2013 Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California™ reveals new trends and insights on why stubborn gender gaps persist in the nation's most populous state. Released by Mount St. Mary's College on March 21, 2013, in front of 850-plus people, the Report is the only one of its kind. It compiles data on a dozen key issues vital to the well-being of California's 18.9 million women and girls.
This year's Report includes research on demographics, education, employment, poverty, media, technology, leadership, physical health, mental health, violence, incarceration, and women in the military.
"We publish this Report because if we truly want to inspire our own students to affect change, we must lead by example," says Ann McElaney-Johnson, president of Mount St. Mary's College.
Tour this page to relive some of the highlights from the public release of this year's Report. We hope you'll spread the word about what you learn. Start conversations. Take action. Stay involved in work that helps improve the lives of California's 18.9 million women and girls!
The PDF of the full Report is 10 MB. If you want to download specific sections, click on the titles on the right.
For an HTML view of the Report, click on each title below.
Women and girls make up half of California’s population. Still the most populous state, California's demographics continue to shift. The Latino population continues to rise with Latinos making up the majority of California’s school children. Like the rest of the nation, California's population is aging while the birth rate is decreasing. The number of Californians over the age of 65 is expected to quadruple in the next 20 years.1 These changing demographic factors give rise to important issues affecting the state’s women and girls.
California women and girls
The state of California is racially and ethnically diverse. Women of color make up almost two-thirds of the female population. Men have an almost identical ethnic distribution to women.
The percentage of women who speak a language other than English at home.
The birth rate in both California and the nation continues to decline. In 2010, births to California women represented almost 13% of all U.S. births. California differed from the national profile in that more than 50% of California births were to women of Latina origin compared to less than a quarter of all U.S. births.
36.5 years old
The median age of women in California. The median age of California men is 34.2 years old. While females are 49% of people under the age of 18, they are 56% of people 65 and older. The ratio of females to males increases from the age of 35 onward.
In California, 45% of females over 15 years of age are married, whereas, 33% percent have never been married. The percent married has been declining for the last 30 years nationally.
More than one quarter (27%) of California women and girls are foreign-born, representing 14% of the state’s total population. Almost half (49%) of those females who are foreign-born are naturalized citizens. An almost equal number of California men and boys are foreign-born (26%), representing 13% of the total California population. Of those, 44% of males who are foreign-born are naturalized citizens.
These statistics represent immigrants for which there are recorded numbers. The Department of Homeland Security estimates that 2.6 million illegal immigrants resided in California in 2010, a decline of 280,000 since 2008.
An education enhances one's ability to thrive personally, professionally and economically. Educated people are more likely to engage in civic participation and fill leadership roles. In California, college graduates earn substantially more than those who do not complete college, and are less likely to live in poverty. However, women and men do not pursue higher education at an equal rate in the same fields. The state's women and girls are still vastly underrepresented in courses leading to science, technology, engineering and math careers.
During the 2011-2012 academic year, 6.2 million students were enrolled in California public K-12 schools. Nearly half were girls.
California public school girls reflect the diversity of the state's population.
With the economic downturn of the past five years, the percentages of students identified as socioeconomically disadvantaged has increased in all ethnicities.
In California schools, both genders continue to improve in math and science performance in their early years, with girls on par or above boys through eighth-grade math but behind in science.
While boys taking Advanced Placement (A.P.) exams participate in chemistry and physics more than girls, girls have greater participation in biology and environmental science than boys. Participation rates have remained the same for the last 10 years.
Regardless of participation rates, boys are scoring higher than girls on A.P. exams. The difference in scores has remained constant since 2003. On A.P. exams, the score range is 1–5, with a 3 being the minimum score accepted for college credit.
While more boys participate in taking A.P. calculus exams than girls, girls have greater participation in statistics than boys. Participation rates have been consistent for the last ten years.
For the last 10 years, the average A.P. exam scores for girls in most STEM subjects has remained the same and are consistently lower than the scores for boys. On A.P. exams, the score range is 1–5, with a 3 being the minimum score accepted for college credit.
With 44% of California households speaking a language other than English and with expanding global opportunities, the ability to speak multiple languages is becoming increasingly valuable.
Over the past 10 years, a higher proportion of California girls have taken foreign language exams than boys. These tests included Chinese language & culture, French language, German language, Italian language & culture, Japanese language & culture, Latin: Vergil, Spanish language, or Spanish literature.
Today more women in California are earning bachelor's degrees than men.
Although California women are more likely to earn an associate, bachelor's or master's degree than men, men are more likely to earn a doctorate. This trend has remained consistent for the last five years.
While California women are earning more degrees, with the exception of the biological sciences, fewer women than men are majoring in science, technology, engineering and math — degrees that can lead to higher paying jobs. The gap in math and engineering has widened in the past five years.
There is ample room for lessening the wage gap between California's women and men. As women increase their level of education and experience, the percentage of females in high-paying executive positions and career fields should increase. Due to retiring baby boomers and the state's aging population, healthcare positions will have the greatest future demand. And, while STEM fields generally represent some of the highest paying career opportunities, women presently tend to occupy the lower-paying positions within these areas. Currently, women are paid less than men across all occupations reported in California.
Recent numbers show that there are 10% more California men in the labor force than women. The unemployment rate is slightly lower for women. When compared to the national level, California's unemployment rate is slightly higher for both women and men.
In two-parent families, both parents are likely to work outside the home. Where only one parent works outside the home, it is much less likely to be the mother.
When looking at broad occupational categories within the state, women represent a majority of employees in three areas: healthcare practitioner and technical operations; sales and office occupations; and education, legal, community service, arts, and media occupations.
Within these categories, traditional gender roles continue. For example, women predominately occupy the lower-paying healthcare technician categories, while men comprise the majority of physicians and surgeons.
The "sales and office occupations" category employs the most women and has the second largest gender gap. Men hold the majority of supervisory positions, while women hold the majority of cashier positions. There are encouraging signs in some sales and office occupations where women are well represented. For example, more women than men are employed as accountants.
Women are more likely to be pre-college teachers than men. Women also are much more likely to serve as legal support workers than are men, and are less likely than men to be lawyers and judges.
Women earn less than men in every occupational cluster. Additionally, categories with the greatest earnings differences by gender include healthcare, legal and management occupations, where women hold fewer positions.
Due to higher demand because of a growing and aging population in California, many of the fastest growing occupations are expected to take place in health care. The top healthcare occupations with the greatest growth and high median annual salaries include physician assistants ($95,207), dental hygienists ($96,317), and registered nurses ($89,577).
In California, as with the nation, women are more likely to be living in poverty than men. The number of women in poverty continues to rise, while the number of men in poverty remains the same. The numbers are particularly concerning for single women living with children and for Latinas. In 2011, more than half of poor women in California were Latinas. In addition, poverty rate varies by educational attainment and hits hardest females with the least amount of education.
For definition purposes, an individual or family is considered to be living in poverty if 100% of their pre-tax income falls below the federal poverty threshold created by the U.S. Census Bureau. The threshold amounts vary based on annual income, family size and age of householder. The poverty threshold for a family of three in 2012 was $19,090.35.
In 2011, 18% of all California women and girls were living in poverty, an increase from 17% in 2010. This equals 3.3 million females. The national poverty rate for women and girls is 17%. The poverty rate for California men and boys at 15% saw no increase from 2010 to 2011. The national rate is also 15%.
Close to half (45%) of households in California headed by women with children under 18 have incomes below the poverty level. Only 14% of the state's married couples with children under 18 have incomes below the poverty level. Nationally, 48% of households headed by women with children and 11% of married couples with children have incomes below the poverty level.
Of women in poverty (over the age of 25), 62% have a high school education or less, whereas 26% have some college and 12% have a college degree. These statistics are similar to males.
Latinas account for over half of all females in poverty. However, the largest increases in poverty rates from 2010 to 2011 were with Asian and American Indian females.
Women are making strides in gaining leadership positions in government and private industry. After historic wins in the 2012 national elections, there are now more women serving in the U.S. Congress than at any other time in history. However, women remain underrepresented in federal, state and local government. In California government, women actually lost ground. Fewer women are serving in California state and local government in 2013 than in 2012. In private industry, more women are serving on boards of large companies. However, a significant gender gap remains among CEOs in California's Fortune 400 companies.
The 113th Congress includes 20 women in the U.S. Senate (out of 100) and 77 in the House of Representatives (out of 453). Those are the highest numbers in history for both chambers, yet women only represent 20% of senators and 18% of representatives.
California will continue to be served by two women in the Senate.
The state has 53 representatives in the House, 18 (or 34%) are women and of those ten are women of color. They include three African Americans, two Asian/Pacific Islanders, and five Latinas.
Of the nation's 50 governors, only five are female, a mere 10%.
While women comprise nearly half of California's population, they are underrepresented in federal government.
Two out of eight elected officials in California's executive branch are women ? the Attorney General and the Secretary of State. Only nine women have been elected to serve in California's executive branch since 1967. Attorney General Kamala Harris, elected in 2010, is serving in the highest state office ever held by a woman in California.
Fewer women are serving in the California Senate and Assembly since the November 2012 elections. Beginning in 2013, the Senate will include 10 women, down from 12 and the Assembly will include 21 women, down from 22. Prior to the election, women comprised 28% of the state Legislature. As of 2013, women will make up only 26%.
The number of women in the California Senate peaked at 13 in 2009 and peaked at 25 in the Assembly in 2003?2006.
California is ranked 19th in the nation for the number of women serving in statewide office, down from a high of 6th place in 2003 and 2004.
Nationally, 217 U.S. cities (17%) with populations over 30,000 had female mayors.
In California, 45 cities with populations over 30,000 had female mayors, or just over 9%.
The number of women serving on county boards decreased slightly this year. As a result of the November 2012 election, six fewer women are serving on County Boards of Supervisors. Previously, there were 73 women serving (25%), and now there are 67 women serving (23%) in 2013. This year, 18 (out of 58) counties in California will have no women serving on their Boards of Supervisors.
California Supreme Court
The majority of the members of the Supreme Court of California are women (4 out of 7). That has been the case since January 2011 with the appointment of Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye. She is the second woman to hold that position.
California's Fortune 400
Almost two-thirds (63%) of California's 400 largest public companies have no women among the highest-paid executives. Another 30% of the state?s companies have only one woman in this category, while only 7% companies have two or more women among the highest-paid executives.
Only 3% have a woman serving as CEO; this percentage remains unchanged from 2011. Several of these women CEOs have multiple roles (CEO and president, or chairman and CEO). The CFO category has the most women (12%). This is a slight increase in the number of women who are chief financial officers since 2011 (11%).
Women comprised 11% of corporate boards in 2012, an increase of 0.5% since 2011 and the largest increase since 2008. This continues a modest upward trend from 9% in 2006. The healthcare sector has the largest percentage of companies, 26 out of 38 (68%), with at least one woman director.
California is one of the largest producers of media in the nation in terms of television shows and films. The creation and consumption of media are a prominent aspect of California living. However, as half of California's population, women continue to be underrepresented both behind the camera and in front of it - in film, television, and radio. In addition, the predominant portrayals of women in film and television are largely absent in high status and skilled professional fields that require higher education and leadership ability. However, the role of women in these media is limited.
In 2012, women comprised roughly a third of all news staff.
The percent of behind-the-scenes occupations women hold in the film industry.
The percentages for key roles in the film business in which women are employed:
The percent of behind-the-scenes occupations women hold in the television industry.
The percentages for key roles in television in which women are employed are:
Women still have a long way to go before their presence in media programming is equal to men. In family films, only 28% of characters with speaking roles are women. In children's shows, only 31% of these characters are female.
Additionally, representation of female leadership remains a challenge in both family films and prime-time programming. Females are still not on par with males in the number of influential positions held across eight primary occupations.
As information and communication technologies become an integrated, indispensable part of people's lives, the status of women in terms of their knowledge, ownership, and use is lagging compared to men. Women are making strides as owners of popular forms of technology (e.g., laptops, cellphones) but are generally behind in their confidence in technology uses.
California remains a leader in technology use and development. Compared to the nation, California residents are more likely to use the Internet (87% v 85%) and have a broadband Internet connection at home (73% v 66%).
While both women and men report an increase in the use of the Internet over the last five years, there remains some gender differences.
Women are less likely to own e-readers and tablet computers than men, but are more likely to own laptops and cell phones.
However, ownership alone does not dictate knowledge or use. Among cell phone users, women are less likely than men to use email, download apps, access the Internet and record video.
In addition, specific Internet use during the last presidential election revealed that women were less likely than men to watch videos online related to news reports, political ads, live candidate speeches or debates, political parodies, and political issues.
From 2007 to 2011, survey data of California colleges revealed a persistent lack of confidence in computer skills for women compared to men. In 2011, 69% of women self-report average or below average computer skills compared to 51% of men.
In addition, specific Internet use during the last presidential election revealed that women were less likely than men to watch videos online related to news reports, political ads, live candidate speeches or debates, political parodies, and political issues.
The health picture for women and girls in California continues to show encouraging trends with significant strides in life expectancy. However, the increasing rate of childhood obesity is concerning. An important factor in reducing childhood obesity is breastfeeding. California has the greatest legal protections for employed breastfeeding mothers in the nation. All California females will benefit as the Patient Affordability, Protection, and Care Act of 2010 is implemented, increasing access for women and girls to preventative healthcare services.
Asian and Latina women live longer than the average life expectancy of 82 years for all California women.
Cardiac disease and cancer continue to be the two leading causes of death for Californians, both women and men.
While obesity continues to be a challenge, in the state of California women and girls are less likely to be obese than California's men and boys.
Breastfeeding initiation is an important factor in decreasing childhood obesity.
California is making progress on increasing the rate of in-hospital breastfeeding. The rate of exclusive breastfeeding has increased from 57% in 2010 to 60% in 2011.
The total birth rate continues to decrease in California. The teen birthrate among all ethnic groups fell to a record low in 2011.
California's infant mortality rate reached historic lows in 2010 (4.7/1000 live births). Yet African American babies continue to die at rates 2.3 times that of white babies. The state's infant mortality rate is lower than the national average (6.6/1000 live births)
Preterm births declined for the 4th year in a row to 10% in 2011. California's rate of pre-term births is slightly better than the national average.
In California, 33% of women deliver via C-section. This is slightly higher than the national average.
Postpartum depression affects 13% of all California women; whereas, prenatal depression affects 15%. Low-income women are more likely to suffer from depression before and after pregnancy. Women are more likely to experience intimate partner violence during pregnancy and in California, 7% of women report experiencing violence during their pregnancy.
California workers may apply for maternity disability that includes 10 weeks of partial wage replacement. In 2012, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law an amendment to the Fair Employment and Housing Act (AB 2386), which now protects employed breastfeeding mothers from sex discrimination and harassment. That same year, the Fair Employment and Housing Commission passed new regulations, which now include lactation as a defined "other related medical condition" to pregnancy. These measures, combined with state and federal law, make California the state with the greatest legal protections for employed breastfeeding mothers.
Women's access to preventative health services is expected to increase under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. Health plans are required to cover 22 preventative services for women, including:
Mental health issues can range from severe lack of self-confidence and handling daily stressors to psychological disorders and substance abuse. Mental health is integrally tied to many aspects of living - such as work, education and psychological health.
Overall California's first-year college students rate themselves highly in terms of drive to achieve. Fewer women than men rate themselves above average in emotional health, self-confidence, and self-understanding. This trend has remained consistent over the past five years.
Over one million women in California have symptoms associated with serious psychological distress (measured as a six-factor scale and includes frequency of feelings of nervousness, hopelessness, restlessness, worthlessness). Women report higher rates of psychological distress compared to men and represent two-thirds of the users of mental health services.
Over half of women with past-year serious psychological distress indicate that their household chores, their social life, and their relationships are severely impaired due to emotional distress.
Women with past-year serious psychological distress (SPD) are more likely to smoke and to have engaged in binge drinking than those with no past-year psychological distress. Additionally, women with past-year SPD are more likely to have been a victim of intimate partner violence and to have suicidal ideation than those without past-year SPD.
California females seek treatment for methamphetamine use at a rate higher than alcohol and any other substance of abuse. Though this trend has been consistent between 2005-2010, there was a steady decline in the number of females who entered treatment for methamphetamine use, while incidence of treatment for alcohol and marijuana abuse has increased from 2005-2010.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death both in California and the nation. Approximately 3,300 Californians lose their lives to suicide every year with an average of nine people dying by suicide each day. In California, males are three times more likely to die by suicide than females because they use more lethal means (firearms), yet females attempt three times more often (overdose).
Children with more risk factors have an increased possibility for suicide. These risk factors include:
Violence against women and girls is an everyday reality and a public health problem. Victims of violence face bodily injuries, emotional suffering, depression, post-traumatic stress, sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancy and hypertension, among other mental and physical harms. Some do not survive. Rape, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, sex and labor trafficking, and bullying carry significant costs to both victim and society.
Nearly 1 in 5 women (18%) in the US has been raped at some time in their lives. Approximately 80% of female rape victims were first raped before age 25. More than half (51%) of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner and 41% by an acquaintance.
In a California survey, 41% of women and girls in California reported that they were victims of intimate partner violence in their lifetimes, compared to 33% nationally.
Younger women, 18-24 years (11%) were more likely to be victims of physical intimate partner violence in the past year than California women in other age groups.80 In 2010, 47% of all female homicides in California were due to intimate partner violence.
Stalking is the persistent harassment or intrusion into the private space of another. The murder of actress Rebecca Schaeffer in California in 1990, led to the nation's first anti-stalking law (other states followed suit).
To respond to the growing stalking problem, the District Attorney's Office established S.T.A.T., the Stalking and Threat Assessment Team.
Nationally, one in six women has been the victim of stalking during her lifetime. Two-thirds (66%) of female victims of stalking were stalked by a current or former intimate partner. More than half of female victims of stalking indicated that they were stalked before the age of 25.
Human trafficking is a form of slavery, where people profit from the control and exploitation of others, as with forced agricultural or domestic labor. Sex trafficking profits by coercing others into the commercial sex industry, including forced prostitution, online escort services, and brothels.
About eight in 10 of the suspected incidents of human trafficking investigated by federally funded task forces were classified as sex trafficking, and about one in 10 incidents were classified as labor trafficking. Between 2010 and 2012, California's regional task forces initiated over 2,500 investigations, identified nearly 1,300 victims of human trafficking, and arrested nearly 1,800 individuals.
Given the complications of the U.S. Immigration system, foreign national victims are reticent to come forward to report the crime of human trafficking. Labor trafficking cases, such as domestic servitude, almost always involve women.
California is a top destination for victims who are trafficked into the United States annually. In 2006, legislation outlawing human trafficking was enacted in California and in 2012 state voters approved a measure to increase penalties for human trafficking convictions to prison sentences of 5-12 years and fines up to $500,000.
Nationally, human trafficking is the fastest-growing organized crime, involving an estimated $32 billion per year.
Between January 2008 and June 2010, federally funded task forces opened 2,515 suspected incidents of human trafficking for investigation.91 Four-fifths of victims (83%) in confirmed trafficking incidents in the United States were identified as U.S. citizens.
The California Department of Education defines bullying as "exposing a person to abusive actions repeatedly over time." Bullying may be physical (hitting, kicking, spitting, pushing), verbal (taunting, malicious teasing, name calling, threatening), or emotional (spreading rumors, manipulating social relationships, extorting, or intimidating). It can occur face-to-face or in the online world.
In 2011 Gov. Jerry Brown signed an anti-bullying measure called "Seth's Law." This legislation went into effect July 2012, giving public schools tools to prevent and address bullying through mandatory policies and systems to help discourage harassment and track incidents when they do occur.
Nationally, there are 2.7 million students being bullied each year. Nearly 282,000 students are reportedly attacked in high schools each month. The fear of being bullied caused 160,000 children to miss school every day in 2010. In 2011, 20% of students in grades 9-12 nationwide experienced bullying.
In 2011, 16% of high school students report being cyber-bullied within the previous 12 months. Cyber-bullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Teenage victims of cyber-bullying may be at a greater risk for health problems, skipping school and more likely to use drugs or alcohol. Girls are more likely to be victims of cyber-bullying than boys.
The average woman in California prisons is under 35 years of age, and is likely to be a mother who was the primary caregiver of her children. Offenses against persons are on the rise: 56% of women in the state's prisons carry this conviction, up from 39% in 2010. California also has the largest number of women on death row in the nation, though there has not been an execution of a woman in the state since 1962.
Women comprise nearly 5% (or 6,475) of the total incarcerated population in California.
Offenses against persons are on the rise. In 2010, 39% of offenses were against persons compared to 56% in 2012.
In the 2012 election, Californians voted to retain the death penalty. There are 63 women on death row across the country, of which two are in federal prisons. California has the largest number of death row women at 20. They include 11 whites, five Latinas, two African Americans and two Asians. There has not been an execution of a woman in California since 1962. Approximately 50% of the California death row women were sentenced for killing a husband, boyfriend, related child or child in her care.
With the January 2013 announcement that the U.S. military that it will formally end its ban on women serving in front-line combat roles, there will be new opportunities for female service members. Women join the Armed Forces for many reasons: duty to country, career, travel and adventure, increased education, financial stability and independence. However, there are also increased challenges for these women, including more difficulty receiving needed care than male veterans.
Nationally, women comprise 14% of military and 18% of National Guard and Reserve on active duty. One fifth (20%) of new military recruits are female. Currently, there are 1.8 million (8%) women veterans and this number is projected to increase to 10% by 2020. The median age of female veterans is 47; whereas the median male age is 61. More female than male veterans self-identify as a member of a racial minority.
There are almost 167,000 women veterans living in California. Women comprise 8% of California's total veteran population, more than any other state. The percentage of female veterans in California is expected in to increase to 11% in 2020.
The current female veteran population is predominantly white, but the percentage of non-white women veterans in California is expected to increase from 38% to 44% in 2020.
California has one of the highest concentrations of female homeless veterans. Women veterans are more likely to become homeless than women who have never served in the military. To determine why female veterans are at greater risk for homelessness, the U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau designed a pilot project to gain a better understanding of the needs of homeless female veterans. Part of this project included a program that instituted listening sessions with homeless women in California.110 Female veterans who participated in these listening sessions reported experiencing trauma at various stages of life, including while in military service. Factors identified as contributing to their homelessness included:
Many service women do not identify themselves as "veterans" and they report feeling "invisible" when returning from deployment, thus leading to problems providing care for this population. This is especially true for the younger female veteran.