An Invitation to Action: Commemorating a Historic Report on the Status of Women

by Latifa Lyles on December 7, 2013 · 1 comment

This week in the Women’s Bureau, we’re commemorating the 50th anniversary of “American Women: The Report of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women.” The commission was a major federal initiative launched during the Kennedy administration that focused on women’s status in society − with labor issues front and center. Esther Peterson, the head of the Women’s Bureau at the time, helped lead the commission and oversee the report’s creation.

We hope you can join us via live webcast 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, Dec. 10, as we kick off our celebration with a panel discussion on the status of women in today’s economy.

The Presidential Commission on the Status of Women is established by President John F. Kennedy in 1961.

So just what has changed in 50 years?

- In 1963, women only made up one-third of the labor force. Today, women represent approximately half.

- In 1963, twice as many women did not even complete high school compared with those who completed any level of postsecondary education. Today, more than half of all women have completed at least some postsecondary education!

- In 1963, women only earned 59 cents for every dollar that a man made. Today this wage gap still exists, but there has been a little progress: for every dollar paid to a man, a woman is paid about 77 cents when the calculations are based on annual earnings, and more like 81 cents based on weekly wages.

Text from the introduction of the "American Women" report.

To learn more about the “American Women” report, read it in its entirety here, or watch this short video explaining the motivation behind the commission’s creation.

And if you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag #PCSW50 to share your thoughts on the status of women today and what more needs to be done. We look forward to hearing from you!

Latifa Lyles is acting director of the Labor Department’s Women’s Bureau.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Susan Flashman December 9, 2013 at 6:02 pm

It would be nice if the above photo identified each of the women present at JFK’s signing. See you tomorrow.

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