But beyond such history-making headlines, the actual standing of women in the American economy is rather grim. That's the finding of the just-released "Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Pushes Back from the Brink," which is a joint effort by Maria Shriver and the progressive Washington, DC-based think tank, the Center for American Progress, which was also reported in Time Magazine.
The report is being released as women's place in America is in "flux," as Shriver told NBC's "Today Show." According to the report, only one in five American households features a stay-at-home mom and a father who serves as the sole breadwinner. With such variety in American family experiences, the Shriver report reveals a series of troubling statistics about the pressures being placed on women. But chief among them is this -- one in three American women, or 42 million women, either live in poverty or are right on the brink of it. (The "brink of poverty" is defined as making $47,000 a year for a family of four.)
"These are not women trying to 'have it all,'" Shriver wrote in the introduction to the report "These are women who are already doing it all - working hard, providing, parenting, and care-giving. They're doing it all, yet they and their families can't prosper, and that's weighing the U.S. economy down."
Here are some more stats:
- Nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women;
- The average woman is paid 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, while it's worse for American women, for whom the figure stands at 64 cents, and even worse for Hispanic women, who only make 55 cents to the dollar earned by white men;
- 42 percent of low-income women experience high levels of stress compared with 22 percent of all men.
The double caregiver/breadwinner life
The array of stats should also be considered in the context of the growing demands being placed on women; two out of three American women consider themselves the breadwinner of their families, according to the report.
The everyday struggles of trying to be both the chief breadwinner and caregiver are known to millions. NBC's "Today Show" just profiled one woman in that very situation, Sofia Lopez. She's dealing with the full plate: attending school part-time to get a bachelor's degree, working part-time as a security officer for a hotel and serving as the caretaker for two family members.
"I get paid, and three days later I'm broke," she told NBC. "I have my elderly dad that lives with me and I take care of him."
Perhaps in part as a result of Shriver's star-power the report has already gotten the nation talking. She was said to have discussed the report with President Obama in a meeting at the White House yesterday, according to CNN.