Women in the Work Force

February 18, 1977

Report Outline
Work Patterns of the Seventies
History of Working Women in U.S.A.
Continuing Fight for Job Equality
Special Focus

Work Patterns of the Seventies

Women's Big Entry into U.S. Job Market

Responding to changing views of their role in society and inflationary pressures on family budgets, women are surging into the U.S. labor force at an unprecedented rate. Not even in the World War II days of Rosie the Riveter did so many women work outside the home. Nearly half—47 per cent—of the American women 16 and older held jobs or were actively looking for work last year. Among women aged 20 to 64, the prime working year, the percentage was even higher. Over 56 per cent of the women in this group were employed.

The number of American women who work has been rising steadily since 1947. But during the last few years and especially in 1976, women entered the job market at a pace called “extraordinary” by Alan Greenspan, chairman of President Ford's Council of Economic Advisers. Last year 1.6 million women entered the work force. Over the past 25 years the number of American working women more than doubled, rising to nearly 39 million in 1976 from just 19 million in 1951. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that nearly 12 million more women will be added to the work force by 1990. According to the same projection, the number of men in the labor force will grow by less than 10 million during that period. Although men are expected to continue to make up the larger part of the labor force, their participation is expected to continue its slow, long-term decline.

The Department of Labor, in its “1975 Handbook on Women Workers,” labeled this increase in the number and proportion of women who work as “one of the most spectacular changes in the American economy in the past quarter-century.” Eli Ginzberg, a Columbia University economist and chairman of the National Commission for Manpower Policy, called it “the single most outstanding phenomenon of our century,” and he went on to say that “its long-range implications are absolutely unchartable.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Women and Work
Jul. 02, 2021  Women in the Workplace
Nov. 08, 2019  The Gender Pay Gap
Oct. 27, 2017  Workplace Sexual Harassment
Jul. 26, 2013  Women and Work
Apr. 14, 2006  Future of Feminism
Apr. 04, 2003  Mothers' Movement
Sep. 25, 1992  Women in the Military
May 10, 1985  Women's Economic Equity
Jul. 10, 1981  Women in the Military
Mar. 20, 1981  Equal Pay Fight
Jul. 04, 1980  Women in the Executive Suite
Jul. 13, 1979  Two-Income Families
Feb. 18, 1977  Women in the Work Force
Feb. 13, 1957  Woman's Place in the Economy
Apr. 22, 1944  Women Workers After the War
Jan. 26, 1942  Women in War Work
Jul. 13, 1926  Sex Equality and Protective Laws
Civil Rights: Women
Women in the Workplace