The Shriver Report

The Shriver Report

Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress released a 400-page study, "The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Changes Everything," on the state of women in the economy. Shriver, the former NBC News correspondent and current first lady of California, compared the state of women today to what it was more than 40 years ago, when her late uncle John F. Kennedy created the first Commission on the Status of Women.

A lot has changed in the last few decades. Many of the study's findings will be met with a "Duh!" from women who actually are in the workplace. For instance, women now hold half of America's paying jobs and two-thirds of mothers with children work outside the home. Nevertheless, men still earn more than we do: In 2008, women earned 77 cents to the dollar of men's wages, a discrepancy that held fairly steady whether the men and women in question had failed to finish high school or completed an advanced degree. Even when both members of a couple work, women do more than twice as much housework: 31 hours per week, compared to men's 14 hours.

Why It Matters To You

The engaging report, which includes statistics interspersed with personal essays, offers some interesting insights into how women and men have been differently affected by the recent recession:

  • Men are three times more likely than women to have lost a job because of the economic downturn.
  • On the other hand, women's earnings fell twice as fast as men's during 2008.
  • Women are 32% more likely than men to have subprime mortgages, leaving us more vulnerable to the housing market.
  • Half the women in households earning less than $75,000 say they're delaying having children, or having fewer children, because of money concerns.

The research also tells us that 70% of women report being less financially dependent on a spouse or partner than the previous generation. When asked if financial support would be important to them in a partner, only 30% of women said yes. Seventy-eight percent said that a woman can have a fulfilling life on her own.

The Takeway

We're not where we want to be yet, but we're in a much better place than we were. To get there we need to keep pushing forward.

Minda is vice president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), and co-author of "The Geek Gap: Why Business and Technology Professionals Don't Understand Each Other and Why They Need Each Other to Survive."

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