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The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything

The Battle of the Sexes is over. Now it’s Negotiations Between the Sexes – about work, family, household responsibilities, childcare, and eldercare.

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Contact: Madeline Meth
Phone: 202.741.6277
Email: mmeth@americanprogress.org

Groundbreaking report finds that America’s leading institutions – government, businesses, education, faith, and media – have not kept up with the changing nature of the American worker and the American family

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the Center for American Progress and Maria Shriver released “The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything,” a comprehensive study examining a social transformation unfolding right now. For the first time in our nation’s history, one-half of all U.S. workers are women, and mothers are the primary breadwinners or co-breadwinners in two-thirds of American families, also for the first time.

This multifaceted report – including a comprehensive national poll conducted by The Rockefeller Foundation in partnership with TIME Magazine – looks at the changing face and attitudes of the American worker. Economists, sociologists, and other academic experts examine this seismic shift in the workforce and how it is impacting our institutions – business, government, education, faith, and media – as the overwhelming majority of families no longer conform to the traditional paradigm, where men worked outside the home and women were stay-at-home homemakers.

The Shriver Report is available at www.awomansnation.com. Free Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Incorporated, will publish the report on October 20 as an eBook exclusive.

The Shriver Report findings include:

A Seismic Workforce Shift

  • The advent of women becoming half of US workers is the greatest transformative force of our time. This is a permanent change in our culture – unlike temporary spikes in female employment in the past when, for instance, men left the workforce and went off to war.
  • Three-quarters of Americans view the rising proportion of women in the workplace as a positive development for society, with fully 70% percent of men saying they are comfortable having women work outside the home. But both fathers and mothers are concerned about the negative effect on their children when there is no longer a stay-at-home parent.
  • This seismic shift is impacting every institution in American life. But many of them – government, business, faith, education, and media – haven’t kept up with the shifting nature of American families. For example, basic labor standards and the social insurance system are based on supporting “traditional” families, where the husband works and the wife stays home to care for children.
  • More than 80% of men and women agree that businesses failing to adapt to the needs of modern families risk losing good workers. And the fact is, businesses that support and retain women do have healthier bottom lines.
  • The current recession has accelerated the workforce shift towards women, because most of the jobs lost have been men’s jobs. But the increase in women’s proportion of the workforce will continue, because future job growth is predicted to be most robust in industries, such as education and health, where women dominate.

Family Issues

  • The battle of the sexes is over. Now it’s negotiations between the sexes – about work, family, household responsibilities, childcare, and eldercare.
  • A record 40% of children born in 2007 – more than 1.5 million of them – had unmarried mothers.
  • What used to be called “women’s issues” are now “family issues.” Men now agree with women that government and business need to provide flexible work schedules, better child care, and paid family and medical leave.
  • Men and woman generally agree on what they want in life and how they view roles in marriage, as partners, parents, and in their jobs with 63% of men less interested in playing the “macho” role than they were in years past.
  • Most Americans say having religious faith is important to them, but many faith-based institutions have not kept up with the needs of the modern family.
  • 75% of Americans report experiencing stress in their daily lives.
  • Some researchers report a wife feels more sexually attracted to a husband who pitches in around the house, and one of the biggest predictors of a husband’s marital satisfaction is how often he has sex.

A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything

  • Women are more likely than men to graduate from college. Women get half of graduate degrees. Women are running more than 10 million businesses with combined annual sales of $1.1 trillion. Women are responsible for making 80% of consumer buying decisions. Women have more power than ever before.
  • But women still earn only 77 cents for every $1 dollar men earn, and women are less likely to be in leadership positions in corporate America. As of July 2008, only 15 companies on the Fortune 500 list were run by female chief executives.
  • Women still overwhelmingly think they have primary responsibility for their children and their sick or elderly parents. Nearly 86% of women agree that women today still bear the primary responsibility for caring for their sick and elderly parents. 85% of women believe that where both partners have jobs, it is the woman who takes on more responsibility for the home and family.

“The Shriver Report presents an accurate and detailed portrait of American women and families at this transformational moment in our history,” Maria Shriver said, “It’s been almost fifty years since my uncle, President John F. Kennedy, asked Eleanor Roosevelt to do the same by chairing the very first Commission on the Status of the American Woman. We’ve come a long way since then. Now I’m hoping policymakers, armed with our surveys and analysis, can develop updated policies and practices that address and support the needs of today’s American women, men, and families.”

John Podesta, President, Center for American Progress said, "We’ve created a provocative study that we expect will spur a national conversation about what women’s emerging economic power means for our way of life. While Americans have been busy adapting to monumental shifts in our culture, our government, businesses and faith institutions have not kept pace with the reality of the modern American family. This report contemplates what a new America should look like after we finally embrace this important new dynamic in our lives and address these challenges not as ‘women’s issues’ but as fundamental issues important to the livelihood and well being of both men and women.”

“This groundbreaking survey shows that while record numbers of women are graduating from college, entering the workforce, making consumer decisions, and raising families, policymakers and employers are not keeping pace with these changes,” said Rockefeller Foundation President Dr. Judith Rodin. “The Rockefeller Foundation is supporting innovative solutions to fill the gap between what Americans are feeling and resources to help them build businesses, save for the future, access health care, and securely retire.”

The study is co-edited by Heather Boushey, CAP Senior Economist, and Ann O’Leary, Senior Fellow and Executive Director of the Berkeley Center on Health, Economic & Family Security at UC Berkeley School of Law. It includes personal essays by cultural leaders, roundtable conversations with diverse groups around the country, and a national opinion survey

The Shriver Report has a diverse and accomplished advisory committee and world class partners. Our media partners include NBC Universal, Women at NBCU, Telemundo Network & Stations, and TIMEMagazine and Free Press. Our technology partner, Hewlett-Packard, our economic empowerment partner, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women, and our model employer partner Deloitte LLP give the project substantive reach. In addition, Visa, The Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation, PG&E, iVillage, USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy, and the Berkeley Center on Health, Economic & Family Security at UC Berkeley School of Law provide for national footprint of this report. Please see “about us” to learn more about these partnerships.

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