In the 1950s, Betty Friedan identified women's dissatisfaction as "the problem that has no name." In the Bush years, it became the problem that has no data. The administration eliminated a key equal employment survey that tracked advancement and wages by race and gender. At the time, women's organizations were outraged. How are we supposed to remedy a problem if we don't know the extent to which it exists?
Tuesday the White House Council on Women and Girls, a coordinating group created by President Obama "to ensure that American women and girls are treated fairly in all matters of public policy," released a report on the status of women in America. The report, Women in America, reconfirms that there is indeed a wage gap: at all education levels, women earn about 75 percent of what their male counterparts do. There is a caregiving gap: Women are likely to be more responsible for supporting and raising children. And there's also a health gap: Women are more likely than men to suffer from depression and chronic health problems, yet one out of seven adult women is without a source of health care. All of these gaps are even wider for women of color than for white women.
None of these things, in and of themselves, are particularly earth-shattering. They are, indeed, the sorts of statistics that prompted the creation of the council in the first place. But that's kind of the point, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Rebecca Blank told reporters on a conference call Tuesday. The council seeks to provide a comprehensive look at the lives of women and girls, and so this report's value is its synthesis of data from across government agencies.