The State of Women

The Bad, the Ugly, and the Good

This presentation is a snapshot of a big and complex story. It doesn’t come close to capturing the full breadth of women’s experiences, setbacks, or achievements this year—no summary could. But no matter how closely you follow the news or how much you already know about women’s progress, there’s information in here that will surprise you. We present it in three categories—the Bad, the Ugly, and the Good, in that order, because while we need to face harsh truths, we also want to end with hope. Together, we can get to an equal world. Join us.

Read the full presentation here

Here are a few key takeaways from each section:

The Bad

  • Just 1 in 5 C-suite executives is a woman—and fewer than 1 in 30 is a woman of color (U.S.)1
  • Sexual harassment is twice as common in male-dominated organizations (U.S.)2
  • 1 in 3 girls are afraid to lead (U.S.)3

The Ugly

  • 70% of people living in extreme poverty are women and girls4
  • 1 in 3 women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence5
  • The United States is 1 of only 2 countries with no paid maternity leave6

The Good

  • Worldwide, contraceptive use is higher than it’s ever been7
  • For the first time, workers are as happy to have a female boss as a male boss (U.S.)8
  • 4+ million people marched for women’s rights across 60 countries and all 7 continents9

Watch LeanIn.Org president Rachel Thomas give an earlier version of this presentation at the 2018 MAKERS Conference. And visit MAKERS to explore even more inspiring videos, stories, and interviews.


  1. LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company, Women in the Workplace 2017,
  2. Marianne Cooper, “The 3 Things That Make Organizations More Prone to Sexual Harassment,” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, Nov. 27, 2017,
  3. ROX, “The Girls Index: New Insights Into the Complex World of Today's Girls,” 2017,
  4. Project Concern International, “Women's Empowerment & Poverty,” 2018,
  5. “World Health Organization, “Violence against Women,” 2017,
  6. Maternity and Paternity at Work,” International Labor Organization (2014),
  7. Bill and Melinda Gates, “Warren Buffett’s Best Investment,” Gates Notes, 2017,
  8. Megan Brenan, “Americans No Longer Prefer Male Boss to Female Boss,” Gallup, 2017,
  9. Sarah Frostenson, “The Women's Marches may have been the largest demonstration in US history,” Vox, Jan. 31, 2017,; Kainaz Amaria and Tara Golshan, “Photos from Women’s Marches around the world,” Vox, Jan. 22, 2017,

More from LeanIn.Org

Read Women in the Workplace 2017

See our comprehensive annual study of the state of women in corporate America.

Read report

Get the facts about the gender pay gap

Learn more about the need for equal pay for women.

See data

Get involved––start a Lean In Circle!

Lean In Circles meet once a month to support each other and learn new skills.

Start a Circle