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Women in Numbers

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Facts and figures on females throughout the world.

By Amanda Pinney

$1,500 More

That’s how much more money, on average, women owe upon completion of a bachelor’s degree, compared with their male counterparts. According to a new study released by the American Association of University Women, the burden of student debt has a larger impact on women, who make up more than half of the total college population and, in 1996, surpassed men in earning bachelor’s degrees. The study estimates women hold about 64 percent of total student debt, or approximately $833 billion, meaning the female population represents nearly two-thirds of the $1.3 trillion in total outstanding education loans throughout the country. Because of gender wage disparity, the study found, it takes the average woman nearly two years longer to pay off her debt than it does a man.

30 Years Old

The age when a woman with a master’s degree or higher-ranking degree first becomes a mother is estimated to be 30 years old. Data analysis conducted by the Pew Research Center determined highly educated women who are currently between the ages 40 and 50 waited longer than those with a lesser education before having their first child. The data cites 54 percent of women with at least a master’s degree wait until after their 20s to start a family, with one-fifth of these women waiting until age 35 to become mothers. Childbearing patterns of women with a higher level of education contrast with those of women without a degree. For example, 62 percent of women who did not attend college had their first child before reaching age 25. According to the study, the female population polled is split on whether women who want to advance professionally should have children earlier (36 percent of votes) or later in life (40 percent of votes) if they want to reach a top executive position.

14 Percent

Among all women between the ages of 25 and 34, the number of those who are homemakers fell from 43 percent to 14 percent between 1975 and 2016. The reasoning: This 41-year time span saw a dramatic change in values among young people regarding what was traditionally considered to be a pivotal adulthood milestone. A study conducted by the United States Census Bureau found more than half of today’s Americans believe marrying and having children is less important than educational and economic accomplishments. This change in mindset means a change in the traditional role of women. In 1975, the share of young women in the workforce stood at not quite half, but today, that number has risen to more than two-thirds of young women.

62 Million

Approximately 62 million girls worldwide are not in school. Michelle Obama brought this number to light as part of her Let Girls Learn initiative, a project she launched in 2015. The initiative funds community projects to address the issues that prevent girls from receiving an education, specifically targeting a country’s failure to invest in education for girls. In her message, the former first lady indicated a 15 to 25 percent salary increase for each additional year of secondary education a girl completes. Studies have shown that increasing the number of girls enrolled in school by just 1 percent can boost an entire country’s gross domestic product and agricultural output. According to the Let Girls Learn initiative, educated mothers are more than twice as likely to send their children to school, a statistic highlighting the ripple effect achieved when women are empowered by the ability to live up to their potential.

6.4 Percent

Between 1995 and 2012, the number of women intending to major in science and engineering fields rose by 6.4 percent. A study by the National Science Foundation noted the steady rise in female freshman at four-year institutions choosing to study science and engineering, an increase from 27.1 percent in 1995 to 33.5 percent in 2012. Although the number of women interested in these fields has grown, men are still more likely to plan a science or engineering major when entering college. Although women in the U.S. make up close to 50 percent of the workforce, they hold less than 25 percent of jobs in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) professions. Today, government initiatives and diversity programs are doing their best to close this gap, and many universities now offer special STEM support and incentives for women hoping to enter these fields.

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