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Wednesday, March 8, is being promoted as A Day Without A Woman, an event created to “highlight the economic power and significance” of women and call “attention to the economic injustices women and gender nonconforming people continue to face,” according to organizers.
Women are being encouraged to take the day off from paid or unpaid labor as a form of protest. Participants are also being asked to refrain from shopping on the day, and to wear red as a sign of solidarity with the movement.
Critics have pointed out the irony that only people of privilege are able to participate without risking serious repercussions, because many women—perhaps most—don’t have the luxury of taking the day off from their normal responsibilities. Skipping work could mean losing a day’s pay or perhaps losing a job, period. And even some women who don’t work outside the home have no one else to rely on to take care of their children or handle other household duties—so taking the day off to march in protests, attend rallies, or simply rest may not really be an option.
Theoretically, however, what would a day without women truly look like? Here are some of the ways America would suddenly be transformed if all women went on strike or simply vanished altogether.
Nearly half of America’s workforce would disappear. Women account for 47% of all workers in the United States.
Median earnings would soar. Women work nearly two-thirds of the minimum-wage jobs in the U.S., and across all industries women make 79¢ for every $1 earned by men. Median annual earnings for full-time female workers were $39,621 in 2014, compared to $50,383 for men. So if women were somehow removed from the picture, median earnings would suddenly rise sharply.
America’s children wouldn’t learn much. More than three-quarters of public school teachers are women, and the education system would collapse without them. In fact, some school districts in North Carolina and Virginia are telling students to stay home on Wednesday because they anticipate that so many women won’t show up to work that the schools won’t be able to function.
Other industries would be decimated too. Women account for the majority of workers in many fields, according to Census data, including:
• 96% of all dental hygienists
• 91% of all registered nurses
• 84% of all cashiers
• 60% of all accountants
• 53% of all pharmacists
Almost 15% of the military would disappear. There are roughly 214,000 women actively serving in America’s armed forces, accounting for 14.6% of the total. Women constitute over 19% of the Air Force, and over 16% of the Navy.
And about 15% of executives at big companies would vanish too. Women make up 14.6% of the executive officers in America, and are often are underrepresented at the leadership level even in fields that they dominate. Women make up 54.2% of workers in the financial services industry, for example, but only 12.4% of executives.
4% of Fortune 500 companies would be without a CEO. Only 21 of Fortune 500 companies have a woman serving as CEO, or 4% of the total. In other words, 96% of the CEOs at these companies are men.
College classes would be relatively empty. Women have outnumbered men on college campuses since the late 1970s, and 55% of undergraduates enrolled at four-year schools are women.
10,829 babies wouldn’t be born in the U.S. That’s the daily average for babies born in America. (Some 360,000 babies are born around the globe each day, on average.) Granted, it’s not like anyone could actually stop babies from being born—but a day truly without women would be a day without new births. Population growth would go negative, since roughly 7,200 people die each day, on average, in the U.S.
There wouldn’t be many doctors to deliver babies anyway. Roughly one-third of all U.S. doctors are women, but women account for the majority of physicians in several specialties—including obstetrics/gynecology (85%), as well as psychiatry (57%), family medicine (58%), and pediatrics (75%).
The lion’s share of household chores would be neglected. Though men are doing more housework and spending more time with their children than they used to, women still handle the bulk of these household duties. A Pew Social Trends study shows that mothers devote 13.5 hours per week to childcare, compared to 7.3 hours for dads. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women spend an average of 37 minutes cooking (compared with 17 for men), 29 minutes cleaning (vs. 10), and 17 minutes doing laundry each day (vs. 5 minutes for men). There might not be food in the house either, as 70% of women say they handle most of their household’s grocery shopping. In total, women spend an average of two hours and 15 minutes daily on household chores, compared to one hour and 25 minutes for men—a 50-minute difference.
Most volunteers wouldn’t report for duty. Over 62 million Americans volunteered to work for free for nonprofits and other organizations in 2015, and the majority of them—36 million—were women. Women are especially likely to volunteer in charity ventures focused on distributing food, tutoring or teaching, and fundraising, whereas men tend to volunteer more as general laborers or as coaches or referees for sports teams.