Gender Equity in Chicago Improving but Disparities Persist

Gender Equity in Chicago Improving but Disparities Persist

While several indicators of women's equity in Chicago and the surrounding region improved in 2017, rates of violent crimes against women rose and racial/ethnic disparities in women's labor force participation and leadership persisted, a report from the Chicago Foundation for Women finds.

Produced in partnership with the Loyola University Center for Urban Research and Learning, the 2019 Report on the Status of Chicago's Women and Girls (19 pages, PDF) examined eight indicators of women's equity identified in the McKinsey Global Institute 2016 report The Power of Parity: labor force participation, higher education, corporate leadership, political representation, unpaid caregiving, female-headed households, teen birth rate, and violence against women. According to CFW's report, gender parity improved in Cook County overall in terms of labor force participation (from 0.90 in 2016 to 0.93), higher education completion (from 1.0 to 1.15), and representation in corporate leadership. Overall, women's political representation, as measured by state and city office holders, also increased.

At the same time, the study found lower rates of labor force participation among African-American and Latina women (58.5 percent for both groups) than among white (64.9 percent) and Asian-American (62.8 percent) women, as well as lower rates of promotion to leadership roles.

In addition, the report found that in 2017 women's weekly pay averaged 77.8 percent that of men ($14,000 less in annual pay) — with larger wage gaps for women of color — due in part to the underrepresentation of women in high-paying fields and leadership roles, the fact that many women take time off to do unpaid care work, and the "motherhood penalty." According to the study, women on average spend 3.7 hours a day doing unpaid child care, elder care, and/or domestic work, compared with 2.4 hours for men, or 9.1 hours more per week. The study also found that the number of violent crimes against women increased slightly, with women of color disproportionately more likely to be victims.

"Chicago Foundation for Women has been investing in gender equity for more than three decades — not just waiting for 'next year' or the 'next election,' but doing what we can every day to drive change and continue to close the gap for women and girls," said Chicago Foundation for Women president and CEO Felicia Davis. "Being able to track our region's shared progress toward gender equity is fundamental. How can we know where we need to go if we don't know where we are and where we have been?"

(Photo credit: Chicago Foundation for Women)

"2019 Report on the Status of Chicago's Women and Girls." Chicago Foundation for Women Report 08/14/2019. "Chicago Foundation for Women Releases New Data on Status of Women and Girls in Chicago." Chicago Foundation for Women Press Release 08/14/2019.