In 2017, women made their voice heard. They confronted their abusers, made history and broke records. However, as always, there is still more work to be done.
Here are 5 issues that women still face in 2018 and ways you can help through LiveYourDream.org.
Student debt crisis
The U.S. student debt crisis has been compared to the 2010 mortgage crisis. Did you know that of the $1.3 trillion of student debt accumulated so far, women hold nearly 65%? A higher education helps women reach financial stability and economic mobility, and college degrees have been shown to reduce the size of the gender pay gap. However, student debt makes it harder for women to succeed.
- On average, women accrue $1,500 more student debt than men after completing a bachelor’s degree.
- African American women have more student debt than any other group, with an average of $30,000.
Job discrimination and pay inequality
The wage gap can be attributed to a number of things, including an inherent hiring bias against women and the glass ceiling that prevents many women from being promoted to leadership positions. While women make up the majority of the workforce, they are more likely to work in lower-paying fields like community service, education and food service.
- Studies have shown that men are twice as likely to be hired as women and are considered to be more skilled.
- Even when women reach advanced positions, they are still paid less than men in the same positions: on average, women make just 80 cents for every dollar men make, and women of color make just 60 cents.
Lack of women in leadership
While there are more women earning undergraduate and master’s degrees than men, and nearly an even amount earning law and medical degrees, women are still vastly underrepresented in leadership positions. And women of color have an even wider gap.
- Women represent 6% of CEOs at S&P 500 companies, while women of color represent just 0.4% of CEOs at S&P 500 companies.
- Women comprise 37% of all physicians and surgeons, but only 16% of medical school deans.
Teen dating violence
Unhealthy relationship behaviors can begin early and often last a lifetime. For teenagers who are still developing emotionally, these abusive relationships can have negative side-effects like depression, drug and alcohol use, and thoughts of suicide.
- 21% of female high school students that dated experienced physical and/or sexual dating violence.
- Of adult female domestic abuse victims, 22% first experienced some sort of partner violence between 11 and 17 years old.
Untested rape kits
Every 98 seconds, someone in the U.S. in raped. Currently, there are tens of thousands of untested rape kits sitting in storage facilities, each representing a survivor who reported the incident to the police and underwent the 4 to 6-hour rape kit collection process. These survivors deserve to have their kit tested and to have the perpetrators brought to justice. While many states have begun enacting reform policies to require law enforcement agencies to test every rape kit, a lot of work stull needs to be done to ensure every kit gets tested.
- Protects communities: After Detroit tested all of their 11,341 kits, they found 2,616 matches on the DNA database, identifying 811 potential serial rapists who have committed crimes in 40 states.
- Saves money: After Cleveland tested their backlog, they saved the community $38.7 million dollars, or $8.893 per tested kit.
Disclaimer: LiveYourDream.org is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and does not endorse any political candidates or parties. The opinions expressed on our blog pages are not necessarily representative of LiveYourDream.org.
Ashleen Knutsen is a science writer and editor in Los Angeles. After a decade of experience in engineering and research, she decided to pursue a career in science communications to not only spark women and girls’ interest in STEM, but to let them know that they too can change the world.