Fact Sheet: The State of African American Women in the United States

Fact Sheet: The State of African American Women in the United States
African American women have made great strides

AFRICANGLOBE – African American women, who make up 13 percent of the female population in the United States, are making significant strides in education, participation, health, and other areas, but there is a long way to go to fully close the racial and ethnic disparities they face.

New policies such as the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, and other proposed policies such as paid sick leave can greatly improve the lives of African American women and their families. For example, under the ACA, around 5.1 million African American women with private health insurance are currently receiving expanded preventive service coverage and an estimated 3 million African American women will gain access to affordable or subsidized health insurance.

This fact sheet provides a snapshot of statistics about health, education, entrepreneurship, economic security, and political leadership that should guide our choices to enact sensible policies to unleash the potential of this growing demographic and benefit our economy.


One in four African American women are uninsured. This lack of health insurance, along with other socioeconomic factors, continues to contribute to the dire health issues African American women face.

Hypertension is more prevalent among African American women than any other group of women: 46 percent of African American women 20 years of age and older have hypertension, whereas only 31 percent of White women and 29 percent of Hispanic women in the same age bracket do.

While White women are more likely to have breast cancer, African American women have higher overall mortality rates from breast cancer. Every year, 1,722 African American women die from breast cancer—an average of five African American women per day.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea infection rates for African American women are 19 times higher than those of White women.

African American women have higher rates of human papillomavirus, or HPV, and cervical cancer, with mortality rates double those of White women.

African American women represent 65 percent of new AIDS diagnoses among women.

African American women experience unintended pregnancies at three times the rate of White women.

Black women are four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes, such as embolism and pregnancy-related hypertension, than any other racial group.

Birth rates for teenage African American women from ages 15 to 19 decreased by 7 percent from 2011 to 2012.

African American women have the highest rates of premature births and are more likely to have infants with low or very low birth weights. African American infants are more than 2.4 times more likely as White infants to die in their first year of life.

Only 35 percent of African American lesbian and bisexual women have had a mammogram in the past two years, compared to 60 percent of White lesbian and bisexual women.

Educational Attainment

The level of educational attainment for African American women has risen very slowly and still sits at a significantly lower level than that of White women.

The college graduation rate of African American women for the 2004 cohort was 24.1 percent and has not increased at the same rate as the graduation rates of White women, Latinas, or Asian American women.

Only 21.4 percent of African American women had a college degree or higher in 2010, compared to 30 percent of White women.

African American women held 8.58 percent of bachelor’s degrees held by women in 2012 though they constituted 12.7 percent of the female population.

Only 2 percent of African American women are represented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM, fields, while women in total make up 24 percent of the STEM workforce.

African American women earned more than half of all science and engineering degrees completed by African Americans—surpassing their male counterparts.

According to Census data about work-life earnings, White women make more than African American women among full-time, year-round workers, regardless of what degrees they have obtained.


African American women-owned businesses continue to grow despite significant financial and social obstacles.

African American-owned businesses are the fastest-growing segment of the women-owned business market and are starting up at a rate six times higher than the national average.

The number of companies started by African American women grew nearly 258 percent from 1997 to 2013.

The number of African American women-owned businesses in 2013 was estimated at 1.1 million, comprising 42 percent of businesses owned by women of color and 49 percent of all African American-owned businesses.

African American women-owned businesses employed 272,000 workers and generated $44.9 billion in revenue in 2013.

Part Two