Update on Gender Parity

Research in Action

The 100% Project, powered by Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW), is a roadmap to ending gender bias and achieving gender equity within our lifetimes. It calls for cross-sector collaboration to break individual and systemic biases, and to advance policies and programs promoting gender equity. We know where we are headed, and have strategies for how to get there. But where are we now, and how far do we have to go? In what areas are women and men approaching parity, and where does the most work remain?

In order to understand the current status of women and girls in our region, CFW has partnered with the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) to gather and share data on women and girls’ health, safety and economic opportunity in the Chicago metropolitan region. CFW will use this data to track our region’s progress under The 100% Project, and share annual updates with the Chicago community.

In The Report on the Status of Chicago’s Women and Girls, released in the fall of 2017, CFW looks at ten key indicators that reflect women’s ability to live safe, healthy and productive lives. The report identifies three areas where women and men are at or near parity: labor force participation, professional/technical jobs and higher education; and six areas of where women can benefit from greater opportunity and resources: corporate leadership, time spent in unpaid care work, female-headed households, teen pregnancy, violence against women and political representation.

Women in Chicago are at greater risk of violence and economic insecurity, and are farther from gender equity compared to women in other cities. Chicago falls behind Philadelphia, Miami and Atlanta on key indicators of gender equity, and has the lowest score for gender equity of the country’s ten largest metropolitan areas.

Gender equity would add 58 billion dollars to Chicago’s economy. #TakeActionwithCFW Share on X

This has negative implications for women and girls, and for our region as a whole. If Chicago were to match the gender equity progress of those cities with the highest gender parity scores, it would add an additional 58 billion dollars to our region’s economy.

In some arenas, equity is within reach. More women are graduating from college than men. Women are joining the workforce at rates nearly equal to men, and are breaking out of “pink collar” jobs to become lawyers, doctors, journalists and pharmacists.

But for many women, supporting themselves and their family, accessing health care and health information, and living free from violence is a challenge.

Despite increasing education and career opportunities, women in our region are still underrepresented in corporate management and in political office. Women in management are outnumbered by men two to three. The city of Chicago has not had a woman mayor since Jane Byrne’s term ended in 1983, and the state of Illinois has yet to elect a woman governor.

Women are victims of violence at epidemic rates, with over one reported incident per every two women in Illinois. In Chicago there were over 123 reported incidents of domestic violence per day in 2016. This number does not reflect the violence we know goes on behind closed doors and remains unreported.

Women continue to bear a disproportionate burden as mothers and caregivers. In a single year, the average woman spends 80 additional hours on care work compared to the average man, the equivalent of two full weeks of paid work. Single motherhood and female-headed households are still associated with economic insecurity, a risk for the one in four households with children headed by women.

Teen pregnancy rates have declined over the last decade as access to contraception
and comprehensive sexual education have increased. That progress has recently stalled at 11 teen births per 1,000 births.

Knowledge is power. This data will help CFW, and the Chicago community, make informed, evidence-based decisions about where to direct our collective attention and investments in order to move us closer to gender equity.

We know where we are, where we need to go, and how we can get there. This report is the first step in that journey.