University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Why We Still Need Women's Centers: 40 Facts You Never Knew About Gender Inequity

At the Women's Center, we are often asked questions about who we are, what we do, and if the work we do regarding women's and gender equity is necessary. Our answer is unequivocally yes. Around the world, the fight for equal rights for women (and all people) continues. While we gratefully acknowledge the progress that's been made for women in many arenas, there is still a lot of ground to cover. Here you will find some facts about the progress, the incredible inequalities we still have to tackle, and some of the organizations that are working to create change.


Read on to learn more about how you can join the fight for gender equity, and share widely! For a printer-friendly PDF version, click here.


Jump to facts about: EducationAthleticsWomen's LeadershipScience, Technology, Engineering, and MathProfessors, Administrators, Researchers Earnings GapMedia, Writers, ArtistsGender-Based Violence Confidence GapFeminism


Three students sitting in a circle, facing each other, on the grass of Northrop Mall


  1. Women make up the majority of college students overall, but lag behind in several fields and in earning doctoral and professional degrees. Women still experience university climates that are not supportive of their success i.e. they get less feedback and less encouragement from teachers, and at times face outright incivility in their classes.

  2. 62 million girls are denied an education all over the world. #UpForSchool wants to change that - sign a petition here.

  3. Despite clear health advantages for the employee or student parent and child, and economic and family-friendly reputation advantages, many universities deal with lactation needs on an adhoc basis. Although the University of Minnesota is not yet a leader in this field (UC-Davis is the model), our Lactation Support page provides a start.

  4. In our work to advance gender equity for students, staff and faculty across identities on campus, the Women’s Center at the University of Minnesota, facilitates the Indigenous Women and Women of Color Student Summit, the Feminist Ambassador Brigade, the Women’s Leadership Institute, the Summit for Leaders for Women’s Equity, scholarships, mini-grants, workshops, etc.




  1. Women athletes at the typical Division I school receive roughly: 28% of the total money spent on athletics; 31% of the dollars spent to recruit new athletes; and 42% of the total athletic scholarship dollars.

  2. In 1972, 90% of women’s teams’ coaches were women. Title IX helped increased women’s participation in sports and increased coaches’ salaries, but in 2015, the percentage of women coaches had slipped to 43%.

  3. Participation in physical activity and wellbeing are well-linked, yet women and girls lag behind.  Women’s Sports Foundation provides scholarships, research and public awareness.


Women's Leadership


  1. Rather than a glass ceiling, women professionals face a complex labyrinth at each level i.e. routes full of twists and turns including vestiges of prejudice, conscious and unconscious resistance to women’s leadership/style (though the typical transformational style is more effective), expectations of long hours not compatible with children’s needs, and focus on the tasks v. critical socializing/networking (Eagly 2013).

  2. Less than one-fifth of U.S. companies have 25% or more women board directors. About one in ten companies have zero women serving on their boards. Women of color hold only 3% of corporate board seats.

  3. Women hold 24 (4.8% of) CEO positions at S&P 500 companies. Women held 7.5% of executive top earner positions, while men accounted for 92.5% of top earners.

  4. In the 114th U.S. Congress (through January 2017), 20 of the 100 U.S. Senators are women and 104 seats out of 435 in the House of Representatives are held by women (76D, 28R) - just 33 are women of color. As of 2014, the United States is ranked 84 worldwide when looking at women in politics, well behind nations such as Cuba, Sweden, Germany, Afghanistan and China.

  5. Only 22 percent of all national parliamentarians worldwide are female. That’s double the number from 1995, but still low. Running Start helps bring young women into politics.



Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

President Barack Obama fist bumps a middle-school student participating in an "Hour of Code" event to honor Computer Science Education Week. (credit)


  1. The highest median starting salaries for graduates are in computer science & engineering, fields that have the lowest percentage of women. While women receive over half of bachelor’s degrees awarded in biological sciences - in computer sciences (18.2%) and engineering (18.4%) the numbers are much lower.  Women of color make up 16% of the U.S. population, but only earn 3% of bachelor’s degrees in engineering, 5% in computer sciences, and 6% in physical sciences. This is due in part to socialization and in part to the hostile environments faced in these fields.  

  2. By 2018, there will be 1.4 million open technology jobs in the U.S. and, at the current rate of students graduating with degrees in computer science; only 29% of applicants will be women. Girls Who Code aims to educate and expose at least 1 million girls to computer science by 2020. (Microsoft Research)


Professors, Administrators, Researchers

credit: @CrayonElyse on Twitter


  1. Across the country, women professors earn less, hold lower ranking positions, and are less likely to have tenure. While women make up more than 50% of the lecturers and instructors, and a little less than 50% of the assistant professors, they comprise 36% of associate professors and only 21% of full professors. Only 2.4% of full profes­sors are women of color.

  2. Only 25% of college presidents are women, with more than a third leading two-year colleges.

  3. Only 30% of the world’s researchers are women according to UNESCO. Google has a program to inspire the next generation of tech innovators.


Earnings Gap

  1. One year after college graduation, women on average earn $35,296 as compared with the $42,918 that their male counterparts earn. Lean In provides workplace negotiation tips at the individual level.

  2. In AAUW’s the Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap, we learn that white women who work full time earn approximately 78 percent of the wages of their white male coun­terparts. African American women earn only 64 cents for every dollar a white man earns, American Indian and Alaska Native women earn 59 cents, while Latina women who earn only 54 cents. Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women earn 90 cents to the white male dollar, but most AAPI ethnicities experience wage gaps worse than that of white women. The United Nations estimates that 75 percent of women with disabilities are unemployed. Marriage and parenthood are associated with higher wages for men but not for women.

  3. Talk about how much you earn and report inequality. Learn about how to file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC here. Learn what you’re worth with our online salary negotiation module.

  4. Businesses/organizations can support equity in employment with fair salary practices, checking their implicit bias in hiring (Bohnet 2012), and by promoting women, family leave policies, and formal child care provisions. This Institute for Women’s Policy Research Report ends with recommendations for employers and policymakers on how to create and retain female talent.

  5. Only four countries in the world do not provide paid maternity leave to all workers: Lesotho, Papua New Guinea, Swaziland and the U.S. Paid maternity leave in Sweden = 15 months, Canada = 12 months, U.K. = 6 months. Businesses that create flexible work environments find that productivity goes up, turnover is reduced, and their bottom line improves. Paid maternity leave lowers child mortality, improves children’s learning and reduces juvenile delinquency (MomsRising).


Media, Writers, Artists


  1. Only 12% of protagonists in film are women. Only 9% of film directors and 11% of writers are women. 70% of women on TV are in their 20s and 30s.

  2. In 2015, women make up only 24% of the persons heard, read about or seen in newspaper, television and radio news, exactly as they did in 2010 (known as “symbolic annihilation”). Only 9 out of 52 winners of the National Book Award for Fiction are women. In 2015 and 2016, all 20 actors nominated in the lead and supporting acting categories were white, spurring the creation of the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite by April Reign.

  3. The Oped Project asks “Who narrates the world?” as they increase the range and quality of voices writing for media outlets.


Gender-Based Violence

Credit: Stop Telling Women To Smile art series by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh


  1. One in five women on U.S. college campuses have experienced sexual assault, and 13% of college women have been stalked. End Rape On Campus offers resources for survivors and supporters, AAUW offers talking points, and It’s On Us promotes a pledge to be part of the solution.

  2. Women around the world aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria. The United Nations lists suggestions on what you can do to end violence against women.

  3. Sexual assaults are vastly underreported. Only 12% of college student survivors report the assault to police; survivors cite a number of reasons for not reporting: from fear of retaliation to being unsure of whether what happened constitutes assault. We often still blame victim/survivors for their assault. The Aurora Center at the University of Minnesota has tips on how to support survivors and Know Your IX empowers students to end sexual violence.

  4. College men (61%) and women (62%) students are equally likely to encounter sexual harassment. Almost one-fifth of students say that faculty and staff often or occasionally sexually harass students.

  5. More than one in four trans people have faced a bias-driven assault, and rates are higher for trans women and trans people of color. The Trans Women of Color Collective uplifts their narratives, experiences, and leadership.

  6. Globally, women and girls represent 55% of the victims of forced labor. The Malala Fund raises awareness and funds to get girls out of this cycle and into school.

  7. American women serving as soldiers are 15 times more likely to be raped by a comrade than killed by an enemy. The Service Women’s Action Network helps achieve equal opportunities, protections and benefits for women in the military.


Confidence Gap

Amy Cuddy's power poses, visualized via TED + Superinteressante


  1. As children, an equal number of boys and girls want to be president. By age 13, the number of girls with this ambition drops significantly (66% boys versus 19% girls).

  2. The average teen consumes 9 hours of media daily. The Mask You Live In follows boys and young men as they confront messages encouraging them to disconnect from their emotions, objectify and degrade women, and resolve conflicts through violence. Women’s Media Center works to make women visible and powerful in the media.

  3. 78% of 17 year-old women feel unhappy with their bodies. In the U.S., 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life. While there is no single cause of body dissatisfaction or disordered eating, research shows that media exposure increases body dissatisfaction and disordered eating. Microaggressions (whether from media or everyday encounters), lead to increased stress, depression, anger, and hopelessness. Several organizations help girls find their “inner power” including Girl Scouts, Girls for a Change, and A Mighty Girl.




  1. Feminism is about deepening our understanding of how gender (and other identities) impacts our lives and experiences. The stereotype of feminists as shrieking man-haters is, frankly, sexist! “Whatever feminism you choose — good, bad, flawed, or half-assed — the label isn't something to fear. It doesn't mean you want too much or despise men. It means you believe in the equality and rights of everyone.” - Roxane Gay

  2. Even many highly educated people are unaware of microaggressions such as everyday sexist language still in use, e.g. “you guys,” “freshman” and “fireman.” Practice using gender neutral language, such as you all, first year, and firefighter.

  3. Step up gender equality by 2030 and by celebrating International Women’s Day everyday! Share these FAQs About Feminism on your campus or in your community.

  4. In addition to being about fairness, every state and city in the U.S. has the opportunity to further gender parity, which could add $4.3 trillion to the country’s economy by 2025. Check out the McKinsey Global Institute report on the six interventions that are necessary to bridge the gender gap.

  5. Since 1960, the Women’s Center at the University of Minnesota has worked to advance gender equity across identities by providing educational, thought-provoking, and inspirational information and resources via our programs, initiatives, collaborations, advocacy and our social media. We invite your suggestions and strategies to speed up the work to reach an equitable world!  Email: