On Thursday, March 27, Mount St. Mary's College released its third annual Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California® to a sold-out crowd at our Doheny Campus in downtown Los Angeles. The 2014 Report includes key information on the status of the 19 million women and girls who call California home. For the first time, we have also compiled a supplement examining the Status of Women and Girls right here in our hometown of Los Angeles County.
To read the full California Report, a PDF version of it is available for download. Key findings are highlighted below.
California is the nation's most populous state, with 12% of the U.S. population living here. More than 19 million women and girls call California home, and they alone make up 6% of the entire U.S. population. Women of color now comprise 60% of all California women, and more female immigrants settle in California each year than do male immigrants. But while demographics shift, many women are encountering the same challenges that have persisted for too long in California.
More than 19.1 million women and girls now live in California, and women of color make up 60% of that total. As of 2010, white women accounted for 40% of all females in the state, with Latinas representing 37%, Asian American women at 14% and African American women at 6%. While the number of births in California has generally declined over the last five years, 27 percent of the state’s population — 10.3 million people — report being foreign born.
In California, high school and college graduation rates are higher for women than men; overall, women also earn more postsecondary degrees in the state than men. Ethnic disparities persist, however. And women and girls are consistently underrepresented in most STEM degrees. Compared with men, California women earn only 10% of technology degrees; 13% of degrees in computer science, 18% in engineering, 40% in mathematics and 41% in physical sciences. Women do earn 58% of degrees in life sciences.
California's gender wage gap is not as wide as the national average. Women in the state earn 83 cents on the dollar compared with their male counterparts, while the national gender wage gap is 78 cents on the dollar. Still, California women earn less in every occupational category compared with men. And fewer women hold jobs in STEM fields than men in California, with the greatest discrepancies in engineering and technology careers.
Of Californians living in poverty, 54% are females. Nearly one-third of these women are under the age of 18; 9% are under the age of five. And 54% of all California women living in poverty are Latina. Those females hardest hit by poverty are those with the least amount of education.
In California, significant gender gaps exist in the numbers of women among California’s political leaders. While the state has two women serving as U.S. senators, women account for 34% of California’s delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives. And the number of women serving in the state legislature has declined over the past decade, from 37 women in 2005 to 32 women today — out of 120 total members.
Out of approximately 8.6 million women-owned businesses in the United States, an estimated 1.1 million are based in California — accounting for 30% of all companies in the state. The past year also saw an increase in the number of companies with women on their board of directors. However, among California’s 400 largest public companies, women still hold only 11% of top positions, including just 3% of all CEOs.
Women hold 18% of key, behind-the-scenes occupations in the film industry, primarily as editors (20%) and producers (25%). Women fare slightly better in television, holding 28% of behind-the-scenes occupations. Even in front of the camera, more men than women still play leading roles on television. A Mount St. Mary’s study of new, fall 2013 television programming revealed that minorities were greatly underrepresented in front of the camera, with white women accounting for 86% and 79%, respectively, of primary and secondary roles.
California women show increasingly longer life expectancy, though disparities based on ethnicity persist — Asian American women have the longest life expectancy at 89 years and African American women have the shortest at 78 years. The percentage of overweight and obese females is increasing, though fewer California women are overweight compared with men. Nine percent of California’s female population report serious psychological distress.
Approximately 40% of California adult females report experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) during their lifetime, significantly higher than the national rate of 24%. The greatest incidence of IPV in California was among women ranging from 18-24 years of age. Nearly 1 in 5 California women (18%) report being raped during their lifetime, mirroring the national average.
In 2013, the U.S. military formally ended its ban on women serving in front-line combat roles, opening up new opportunities for female service members. While women receive many benefits as members of the Armed Forces, there are also challenges for these women, including access to healthcare once they return to civilian life. Eighty-one percent to 93% of women veterans experience factors known to increase homelessness.
To read the full Los Angeles County Report, a PDF version of it is available for download. Key findings are highlighted below.
Los Angeles County is the most populous county in the United States and more diverse than California. It is home to more than 25% of the state’s population — nearly 10 million people. Women and girls represent more than half of the county’s population and experience many of the same challenges as do women throughout the state.
Women and girls of color make up 70% of Los Angeles County’s female population, compared with 60% for California. Twenty-three percent of them are under the age of 18. At 47%, Latinas are the most populous female segment, followed by white, Asian American and African American. The demographics in Los Angeles County continue to evolve. In 2010, more than 60% of live births were to Latinas. And the percentage of Los Angeles County women who have never been married is now higher than that statewide.
While Latinas and African American girls represent 74% of the county’s K-12 public school population, their high school graduation rates trail those of Asian American (94%), white (88%) and Pacific Islander (79%) female students. The graduation rate of both Latinas and African American girls is 71%. With the exception of biology, girls scored lower in proficient or advanced levels on college-preparatory STEM courses than did boys. However, a greater proportion of women than men under the age of 45 now hold higher-education degrees.
Los Angeles County women earn less in every occupational category compared with their male counterparts. The greatest earnings disparities are in computer science, engineering and science — the STEM professions — and among healthcare practitioners and technical occupations. In Los Angeles County, the earnings gap between men and women is significantly lower than that state-wide — not because women are earning more, but because men are earning so much less than the state median salary. Unemployment rates for African Americans and Latinas were higher than the county average for all races.
There are 1 million Los Angeles County females living in poverty: 63% of them are Latina, 31% are under the age of 18, and 9% are under the age of five. Forty-two percent of women 25 years and older, who have less than a high school education, now live in poverty. Families headed by only women are more likely than all other families to live below the official poverty threshold.
Since 2005, California has dropped from 10th place to 19th place in the number of women serving in state legislative office. Only four of the 13 state senators and three of the 25 state assembly members representing Los Angeles County are women. As of March 2014, only one of the county’s five supervisors is a woman. As of fall 2013, among the county’s 88 municipalities, 18% had women serving as mayors. Out of 285 city council members in all of Los Angeles County, 22% were female. And in the county’s biggest city, only one woman serves as an elected official in the City of Los Angeles.
There are approximately 432,300 women-owned businesses in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, a 25% increase between 2002 and 2013. Out of the total number of private businesses in Los Angeles County, 30% were owned by women. Most of these companies are small businesses, with 89% having no paid employees. Women own more than half of all healthcare and social-assistance businesses in the county.
Twenty percent of the county’s women have no healthcare insurance, compared with 16% statewide and 13% nationally. Obesity remains a great concern in California. While nearly a quarter of all Los Angeles County women are obese, the highest obesity rates are found among African American women and Latinas. Maternal death and infant mortality rates are highest among African American women. Compared with the average life expectancy (82 years) for Los Angeles County women and men, Asian/Pacific Islander women have the longest lifespan (88), while African American women have the shortest (79).
Girls represent 60% of those treated in Los Angeles County for methamphetamine and inhalant abuse, surpassing treatment rates for alcohol, cocaine and other substance abuse. Overall, Los Angeles County has a higher percentage of both boys and girls in drug-use treatment compared with other counties in California.
African American women (24%), white women (20%) and Latinas (16%) reported higher rates of domestic violence than Asian/Pacific Islander women (6%). Overall, self-reported domestic violence surveys indicate that 17% of females in the county have experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner since age 18.
It is estimated that women represent 6% of all Los Angeles County veterans, and women comprise 15% of the youngest bracket of veterans, ages 18–34. White women comprise the majority of county female veterans, followed by Latinas and African American women. Of all veterans in Los Angeles County, men and women, 15% are estimated to be homeless.