Women & Girl Heads of Household

Women and girl heads of household are significantly poorer than their male counterparts. Of families headed by single mothers, 28.7 percent – 4 million of them – live in poverty compared with 13 percent – or 670,000 – of those headed by men. Poverty rates for households headed by single women of color (African American and Latina) rises to 40 percent. Average household income for women-headed households was $22,592 –- just over half the average for all households ($43,130). The difference in household income between married and single parents is significant –- only 5.9 percent of families headed by married parents live in poverty.

Women's Foreign Policy Group Author Series: Gayle Lemmon on Afghanistan



In The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, journalist and author Gayle Tzemach Lemmon tells the story of Kamela Sediqi, the unlikely breadwinner who became an entrepreneur in Afghanistan under the Taliban. Desperate to support her brothers and sisters and unable to earn a living outside the home, she started a dressmaking business in her living room which offered work to 100 women in her community. Together these unsung heroines made the difference between survival and starvation for their families under Taliban rule.

Leaves that Pay: Employer and Worker Experiences with Paid Family Leave in California

This report presents findings from surveys Eileen Applebaum and Ruth Milkman conducted in 2009 and 2010 of 253 employers and 500 individuals about their experiences with the California Paid Family Leave program and concludes with policy recommendations. The authors conclude that California’s Paid Family Leave program has “more than proven its worth," positvely impacting productivity and staff morale in addition to the economic, social, and health outcomes of workers and their families.  The biggest obstacle to full implementation is limited public awareness of the program.  To improve the impact of this path breaking program, Applebaum and Milkman recommend extending outreach, increasing the level of wage replacement, extend job protection to all users of the program, and extend the program to cover all California public employees. To read the report: click

Cover Image: 

Expert Profile

United States
42° 21' 30.3516" N, 71° 3' 35.1828" W

Dr. Mariko Chang is the author of the new book, Shortchanged: Why Women Have Less Wealth and What Can Be Done About It, and the main author of the March 2010 report “Lifting as We Climb Women of Color, Wealth, and America’s Future.” Dr. Chang has a PhD in Sociology from Stanford University and was an Associate Professor of Sociology at Harvard University from 1998 to 2007 where she published work on occupational sex segregation across countries, the use of social networks for gathering financial information and began her work on the gender wealth gap. To help raise awareness of the wealth gap, she maintains a website that provides data and other information on wealth, assets, and debt for public policy makers, the media, researchers, and organizations that address economic security.


Boston, MA
United States
42° 21' 30.3516" N, 71° 3' 35.1828" W

Understanding the Economy: Working Mothers in the Great Recession

The Great Recession has taken a huge toll on working families. The vast majority of jobs lost were lost by men, but a substantial number of jobs were lost by women during this recession. From December 2007 to April 2010, women lost 46 jobs for every 100 jobs lost by men. By comparison, during the 2001 recession, women lost 17 jobs for every 100 lost by men and women lost less then 2 jobs for every 100 jobs lost by men during the 1990s recession. 

Indeed, in recent months, women lost jobs while men gained jobs. From October 2009 to March 2010, women lost 22,000 jobs while men gained 260,000. Women's increased vulnerability to the business cycle has important repercussions for families' economic security. 


This report provides an updated look at the employment situation of working mothers with children under 18 years old, and examines the impact of the recession on their participation in the labor market using unpublished data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Cover Image: 
Syndicate content