The Changing Landscape of Women in America

Women comprised 49 percent of the U.S. workforce in 2003. Three critical but under-studied subpopulations in the workforce include: female ranchers and farmers, female professionals, and female immigrants. In the last 25 years, the percentage of all U.S. farmers who are women more than doubled, rising to over 11 percent. Around 55 percent of all professional workers in the U.S. are female, and in 2001, over half of the more than 1 million immigrants admitted to the U.S. were female. While they play an increasingly vital economic role in their communities, these groups lack role models and social and career blueprints and must forge unique pathways toward fulfillment in their work, family, and personal lives. Relying on popular and local media for guidance, working women often confront stereotypical portrayals of women. It is unknown whether the messages embedded in popular and local media are applicable or helpful to these three groups of women. This project sought to 1) identify the questions, challenges, and needs of the three target populations related to work, family, and personal lives; 2) determine the media messages they receive regarding these arenas; and 3) assess the extent to which these messages help or hurt in the struggle to achieve healthy work, family, and personal lives.

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