Charts of the Week: Data on women in work and politics

Part time workforce, gender

In this edition of Charts of the Week, data on how women work and serve. For more scholarship on gender equality, visit 19A: The Brookings Gender Equality Series.


Part time workforce, gender

In their new paper, Isabel Sawhill and Katherine Guyot explore the evolution of working time in the U.S. and how that compares to other high-income countries, noting that Americans are working longer. They document what they call the “middle-class time squeeze,” brought about, they say, “mainly by the failure of many policies and practices surrounding work and family life to adapt to the rising need for families to have a second earner.” The chart above shows the fraction of the workforce in part-time work by gender. While in the U.S. the gap is smaller than most other developed nations, “women’s labor force participation is lower in the U.S. than in much of Western Europe and Scandinavia, perhaps because of fewer opportunities to work part-time.”


gender inequality

In his paper for 19A: The Gender Equality Series, Richard Reeves writes that even 100 years after the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the “U.S. compares badly to most other countries in the world in terms of gender equality in politics—including to our nearest neighbors, Canada and Mexico.” All three countries, Reeves notes, have achieved gender equality in education and health; the U.S. and Canada lead Mexico in the economic arena; yet when it comes to political empowerment of women, Mexico leads both its North American neighbors.

Women overwhelmingly cite caregiving as reason for not working 

Sawhill, Reeves, and Sarah Nzau find that female labor force participation has decreased in recent years [data pre-coronavirus], and many women cite their caring responsibilities for leaving the workforce. “One-third of the decrease in women’s employment in the U.S. relative to other advanced countries is related to the lack of benefits such as paid leave,” the authors note. “There are many women (and increasing numbers of men) who want to be able to combine a successful paid working life with engaged caring roles.”