Women in the Workforce Statistics: Senior Roles, Maternity Leaves, Pay Gap in 2024

Believe it or not, of the 7.8 billion inhabitants on Earth, women are the majority. Ironically, numbers are not in their favor and women worldwide enjoy only a fragment of the rights of men. And although a lot has been done to improve social mores and implement reforms to empower women, gender inequality in the workforce persists.

Tech companies, for example, nourish a cycle of hiring same-gender employees. The latest women in the workforce statistics reveal that only 26% of jobs in computer-related sectors are occupied by women. 

The purpose of this article, however, is to explore women’s representation in the workforce and show that despite the hurdles, women are leaping across mountains and taking on the role of breadwinners. Let’s see where things stand!

Women in the Workplace Statistics 101: Editor’s Choice

  • Women account for 47.7% of the global workforce. 
  • Canada has the highest female labor force participation rate at 61.3%.
  • 50.2% of the college-educated workforce are women.
  • A whopping 75% of self-employed women love their job. 
  • Only 27.1% of women are managers and leaders. 
  • 61% of women think motherhood disrupts their progress opportunities. 
  • For the past 20 years, the number of women software engineers has increased by just 2%.
  • 42% of women claim they have been discriminated at work because of their gender.
  • 48% of women occupy entry-level roles.
  • Work-life balance causes conflict for an astonishing 72% of women.

What Percentage of the Workforce is Female?

1. Women account for 47.7% of the global workforce.

The female labor force participation rate across the globe has been declining since 1990, going down from 50.9% to 47.7% at the end of 2019.

Moreover, according to the latest World Bank report, compared to 1990 the share of men participating in the labor force has also dropped from 80.2% in 1990 to 74.7%. 

2. Women hold 50.04% of all jobs in the US. 

2020 sure appears to be in favor of women in the US. Women in the workforce statistics indicate that the percentage of women in the workforce has expanded from 49.7% in 2019.

Experts believe this upward trend will continue and will accelerate, while the number of men in the workforce will be declining. 

3. Canada has the highest female labor force participation rate at 61.3%.

Even though the US has been universally acknowledged as the land of equal opportunities, countries such as Canada and Australia have been showing high female labor force participation rates by year for decades. For example, the rates in Canada have been higher than 50% since 1980, male vs female employment statistics show.

In Australia, the participation of women in the labor force in 2019 was 61.1% with a strong tendency to grow even further. In the 28 member countries of the EU, the share was 46%.

4. Both women and men agree that women should work at paid jobs. 

Claims such as “stay-at-home women are happier” no longer stick. The employment gap between men and women is not because women want to stay home.

On the contrary, around 69.8% of women say they’d prefer having a paid job rather than staying at home, and 66.5% of men agree with them, male vs female employment statistics reveal. Still, for the past 27 years, the gender employment gap has only decreased by 2 percentage points.

5. 50.2% of the college-educated workforce are women.

Education is related to income and this milestone is very important for women. Women in the workplace statistics show that currently, women surpass men by 0.2% as a college-educated labor force.

Another amazing piece of data for women as milestone setters is that more than half of the degrees awarded in the 2016-2017 academic year were to women. During this period, women obtained a total of 57.3% of bachelor’s degrees, 59.4% master’s, and 53.3% PhDs. 

Statistics on Women in the Workplace

6. A whopping 75% of self-employed women love their job. 

It appears few women are happy with their current employment. Only a quarter of all working women are satisfied with their full-time job, while another 24% of full-time jobbers are planning on starting their own business, according to women in the workforce statistics.

Happiness levels are blowing up in the entrepreneurial sector as the majority of self-employed women say they are absolutely in love with their job. On the other side of the spectrum, only 9% of women are happy working for someone else. 

7. 606 million highly educated women worldwide provide unpaid care on a full-time basis. 

Even though women across the world are earning more degrees than men, gender inequality in the workplace statistics offer evidence that the gender gap in employment rates between educated men and women is still present.

As few as 1.5% of men (41 million) are providing unpaid care as opposed to 21.7% of women. Women are often discouraged to accept paid employment due to unpaid caregiving responsibilities. 

8. Women spend around 5 hours a day caregiving.

Studies show that women spend 4 hours and 25 minutes a day doing unpaid care work as opposed to men who only spend 1 hour and 23 minutes. In fact, between 1997 and 2012 the time women spend in caregiving was reduced by just 15 minutes a day, while for men it increased by 8 minutes.

Facts about women in the workplace suggest that at this pace, the gender gap in unpaid care will be closed in 209 years from now. 

9. 10 million businesses in the US are owned by women.

Out of the 74.6 million women in the workforce, four out of ten work in sectors dominated by women. “United we stand divided we fall” seems to be the motto women have when it comes to jobs.

Also, the 10 million female bosses contribute $1.4 trillion in receipts, statistics on women in the workforce show.

10. The parenthood employment gap is 42.8% 

Not so long ago, a research carried out in 51 countries showed that almost 46% of mothers with young children were working as opposed to 53.2% of women without children. What this means is that women pay a penalty for motherhood.

In addition, women also get a wage penalty which could very well last till the end of their working life. Inequality in the workplace statistics pinpoint this penalty as one of the reasons behind the rising parenthood employment gap.

11. 184 countries offer maternity leave.

Parenting support is the key to increasing the percentage of women in the workforce. However, maternity leave is not available for all women around the world although it significantly boosts productivity and employee retention rates.

A total of 184 countries provide an average leave of 98 days for new moms, while paternity leave is provided in 105 economies for a median of only 5 days. Moreover, the US is the only nation that does not mandate paid family leave, according to women in the workplace statistics.

12. Sectors that traditionally employ women are growing. 

The female employment rate has been traditionally high in sectors such as education and healthcare.

The good news is that these sectors are growing with a total of 36,000 jobs added to them in recent years. Sectors dominated by men such as mining and logging have lost 21,000 jobs this year.

13. Only 27.1% of women are managers and leaders. 

In climbing up the managerial ladder, women appear to be doing a much better job than men being one year ahead of men.

Women in the workplace statistics indicate a solid 44.3% of women with an advanced university degree are in senior roles compared to 38.3% of highly educated men leaders. Of them, 25.1% are mothers with young children (aged 0-5 years), while 31.4% are women without children.

14. 61% of women think motherhood disrupts their progress opportunities. 

Motherhood is an important factor affecting women’s advancement in the workspace but so is confidence. A staggering 65% of women believe they are underrepresented in leadership roles due to a lack of confidence.

More than half say this is because they have become mothers. Occupation by gender statistics reveal that 45.7% of women have concerns about being seen as bossy at work, while 38.1% are afraid they might be perceived as “bitchy”.

15. 55% of women in senior roles have experienced sexual harassment. 

When it comes to sexual harassment, 52% of women believe their company would conduct the necessary investigation if such claims are ever to be filed, while 30% consider this a major risk.

Some subgroups where women have reported sexual harassment show much higher numbers and sexism in the workplace statistics confirm it. More than one-third of women in the corporate sector have been victims of sexual harassment, 48% of them are homosexual, and 45% are employed in technical fields.

16. The pay gap between men and women is 20%.

Several factors influence the gender pay gap. One of them is the low return on investment of women’s education. Women are generally paid less than men for the same job position.

Globally, the gender pay gap is growing with women earning 16% less than men in hourly wages and 22% less in monthly wages. Gender discrimination in the workplace statistics in the US confirm that for every dollar men earn, women earn $0.82.

17. A quarter of women participate in the gig economy. 

Short-term engagement is not the women’s cup of tea but even if it was, they’d still be underpaid compared to men. A Uber rideshares study conducted in the US found that women earn less by 7% per hour compared to men.

A different study on women in the workforce found that less than a third or 26% of women participate in the gig economy.

18. 35% of STEM students are women. 

The future of work might just provide new roles for women in fast-growing fields. Luckily, one-third of STEM students are women, and 22% are AI professionals. But is this enough?

Based on women in the workforce statistics, by 2030 between 40 to 160 million women will need to convert to high-skilled jobs as they have overpopulated industries that will probably be subjected to automation. 

19. For the past 20 years, the number of women software engineers has increased by just 2%.

Women are trying really hard to break the glass ceiling and go up in the world of tech but so far the results have not been optimistic. A little over a quarter of computer-related jobs are occupied by women, 3% of which are African-American, 6% are Asian, and 2% are Hispanic.

Discrimination against women in the workplace statistics reveal 48% of female STEM workers had experienced discrimination in the hiring process. In this sector, the only light at the end of the tunnel is women are paid more than men.

20. 42% of women claim they have been discriminated against at work because of their gender.

Despite all the work done over the years to minimize the gender gap, 6% of employers still believe men are better managers than women. Sexism is particularly evident in the public sector. Almost two in five women in senior positions claim sexism exists in their organization.

Sexism in the workplace statistics note 71% of women feel that “unconscious bias” by their seniors is the reason why they cannot advance to leadership positions. Moreover, 77% of mothers say they have experienced discrimination at work while pregnant. 

21. 48% of women occupy entry-level roles.

Being a woman in the workplace is a struggle and men seem to hold higher ground in almost all job positions. From entry-level employees to C-suite executives, women are underrepresented everywhere. In particular, 48% of women hold entry-level positions, 30% are VPs, 26% are SVPs, and only 21% are C-suite executives, occupation by gender statistics indicate. 

22. 98% of women are speech-language pathologists. 

The history of women in the workplace shows women were first included in the workforce to help fill the gap created by a generation of military men. Yet, even today some occupations are regarded as female.

Almost all speech-language pathologists are women, followed by dental assistants with 93%, social workers at 82%, physical therapists at 69%, and pharmacists at 60%. 

23. Women are unrecognized in doing their part to minimize the promotion gap. 

The majority of HR leaders believe women are less likely to be promoted because they do not receive as much sponsorship as men. Only 32% of women in the workplace believe their efforts receive the recognition they deserve. Similarly, 32% of HR specialists say different standards apply to women, an opinion shared by 40% of women.

Statistics on women in the workplace show 19% of HR leaders and women agree that women have lower chances of being promoted. With 45% of HR managers believing there is a shortage of qualified women in the pipeline, the awareness about the promotion gap is obviously low. 

24. 20% of women are mistaken for junior employees.

To work in a high-level position and to be mistaken for a junior employee might be flattering at times but not if this happens on a regular basis. The chances of being mistaken for lower-level staff are twice as higher for women than for men.

What is more, discrimination against women in the workplace statistics indicate 64% of women face microaggressions at work, with their opinions and ideas disregarded and their judgment and expertise questioned. 

25. A daring 37% of women negotiate for promotions. 

The widespread perception is that women are not that good at negotiating as men. This is wrong considering women are often undervalued and need to take matters into their own hands to mend the “broken rung.”

The truth is, only 29% of men negotiate for raises as opposed to 31% of women. Women in the workforce statistics further show that 37% of women handled their promotion negotiations as opposed to 36% of men.

26. Increase in gender diversity scales gross profit by 3.5%

Diversity in the workplace is of utmost importance which is why 78% of organizations set diversity as their priority in improving the culture in the workspace, while another 62% do it to advance financial performance.

In fact, research shows that a 10% increase in gender diversity will most definitely increase gross profits. According to gender inequality statistics, 22% of female employees say their superiors are working towards reaching gender parity at work. 

27. Work-life balance causes conflict for an astonishing 72% of women.

69% of female employees claim society pressures them to put their careers aside for the sake of their family making it impossible to maintain a work-life balance. Most women struggle to keep work and family in balance. They rarely feel confident to resume their work commitments after they’ve become mothers, and 90% are not supported at work post-maternity leave.

Hidden deep inside the few known facts about women in the workplace is the information that shared parental leave is used by 2% of families, which ultimately means women are the ones making all the sacrifice for the sake of their families.

Women in the Workplace: Conclusion

In this review of the latest women in the workforce statistics, we’ve witnessed women striding as mothers and earners, unpaid workers and students, breaking ceilings and climbing ladders to achieve what only a century ago seemed unachievable.

Their perseverance portrays them as the true architects of humankind. But still, much work needs to be done by both women and the culture-makers of companies who hold the power to model the behavior of others so that women are equally represented and acknowledged in the workforce.

Frequently Asked Questions

What percent of CEOs are female?

By May 2019, the Fortune 500 list revealed that there were only 33 women or 6.6% at the helm of large global corporations. Additionally, the S&P 500 Index shows that in 2019 women accounted for 26% of board directors.

The positive side of this is that countries such as France, Germany, India, Italy, the Netherlands, and Norway have applied quotas to try and scale up women’s presence on boards. Hence, in 2019 women worldwide reigned over 20% of the board director seats causing an increase by almost 2% from 17.9% in 2018. 

How can a woman improve the workplace?

Women have the capacity to be leaders and innovators and men generally agree that women are more resourceful. This is perhaps because most women exit and reenter the workplace so they are more skilled in doing more with less.

Moreover, organizations with diverse teams report higher profits and sales than male-dominated teams. 

Why are women employees important?

Recent studies show women positively affect employee engagement and retention. As a matter of fact, Fortune 500 companies with a high number of women in executive positions report they have better financial performance than their competitors that have fewer women on their boards.

The benefits to organizations with more women are higher job satisfaction, organizational dedication, meaningful work, and less burnout. 


The World BankTimeCatalystILO, Pew Research CenterSilver Swan RecruitmentUS Department of LaborForbesThe MuseBuiltInMcKinseyMcKinseySilver Swan Recruitment