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36 Random Facts About . . .

Women

  1. The word “woman” is believed to have derived from the Middle English term wyfman, broken down simply as the wife (wyf) of man. In Old English, women were described simply as wyf, while the term man was used to describe a human person, regardless of gender.c
  2. The English word “girl” was initially used to describe a young person of either sex. It was not until the beginning of the sixteenth century that the term was used specifically to describe a female child.c
  3. The biological sign for the female sex, a circle placed on top of a small cross, is also the symbol for the planet Venus. The symbol is believed to be a stylized representation of the Roman goddess Venus’ hand mirror.d
  4. While many stars and moons are christened with female names, Venus is the only planet in our solar system given the name of a female goddess.d
  5. female breasts
    Human women have proportionately larger breasts than any other female mammal
  6. The breasts of human women are much larger in proportion than those of other female mammals. The prominent size, while not necessary for milk production, is most likely a result of sexual selection.a
  7. The English language originally delineated between women in different stages of life with the terms “maiden,” “mother,” and “crone.” A maiden referred to a young girl who was unmarried, a mother referred to a woman in her child-bearing years, and a crone described a post-menopausal woman.c
  8. The average height of a woman in the U.S. is approximately 5 feet 4 inches, and the average weight is about 163 pounds. These figures vary greatly throughout the world, due to differences in nutrition and prenatal care.a
  9. In almost every country worldwide, the life expectancy for women is higher than for men.g
  10. While the population of males is slightly greater than females worldwide (98.6 women for every 100 men), there are roughly four million more women than men in the U.S. In the age 85-and-older category, there are more than twice as many women as men currently living in the U.S.h
  11. The most common cause of death for American women is heart disease, which causes just over 27% of all mortalities in females. Cancer ranks just below, causing 22% of female deaths.a
  12. Worldwide, women are nearly twice as likely to be blind or visually impaired as men. Experts attribute this difference to the greater longevity of women (leading to more age-related visual impairment) and specific eye diseases that are intrinsically more common in women such as dry eye syndrome and Fuch’s Dystrophy.a
  13. Depression is the most common cause of disability in women, and approximately 25% of all women will experience severe depression at some point in their lives.a
  14. Over 90% of all cases of eating disorders occur in women, and nearly seven million women in the U.S. currently suffer from anorexia nervosa or bulimia.a
  15. Approximately one in five women worldwide reports being sexually abused before the age of 15.a
  16. About 14 million adolescent girls become pregnant each year, with over 90% of those girls living in developing countries.a
  17. childbirth
    About 1,600 women die each day as result of pregnancy or childbirth complications
  18. Each day 1,600 women die as result of pregnancy or childbirth complications. Nearly 99% of these deaths occur in developing nations.a
  19. Approximately 95% of all women in the U.S. have been married at least once by the age of 55.h
  20. Of the 154.7 million women currently living in the U.S., nearly 83 million are mothers.h
  21. The probability of a woman giving birth to a baby girl instead of a baby boy increases significantly the nearer the mother lives to the equator. While the cause of this gender selection is unknown, scientists believe the constant sunlight hours and abundant food supply in tropical regions may favor female births.e
  22. Approximately 5.6 million women in the U.S. reported themselves as stay-at-home moms in a 2007 census report.h
  23. The first Mother’s Day was held on May 10, 1908, and was organized by Anna Jarvis in West Virginia and Philadelphia. As the event gained popularity throughout the country, Congress designated the second Sunday in May as a national day of recognition for mothers in 1914.b
  24. International Women’s Day is held each year on March 8. The annual event was first observed worldwide in 1909.h
  25. In the U.S., Congress established a national week of recognition for women’s history in 1981. This recognition, held during the second week of March, was later expanded into a full month by a congressional resolution in 1987. The month of March is now designated as National Women’s History Month.h
  26. female college graduation
    The first country to grant women the right to vote in the modern era was New Zealand in 1893
  27. According to a 2007 Census Bureau report, one-third of American women aged 25 to 29 have earned a bachelor’s or advanced college degree.h
  28. More American women work in the education, health services, and social assistance industries than in any other industry. These three industries employ nearly one-third of all female workers.h
  29. Women in the U.S. labor force currently earn just over 77 cents for every one dollar men earn.h
  30. Approximately 14% of active members in the U.S. armed forces today are women. In 1950, women comprised less than 2% of the U.S. military.h
  31. The first woman to run for U.S. president was Victoria Woodhull, who campaigned for the office in 1872 under the National Woman’s Suffrage Association. While women would not be granted the right to vote by a constitutional amendment for nearly 50 years, there were no laws prohibiting a woman from running for the chief executive position.b
  32. The first female governor of a U.S. state was Wyoming governor Nellie Tayloe Ross, elected in 1924. Wyoming was also the first state to give women the right to vote, enacting women’s suffrage in 1869.b
  33. The first country to grant women the right to vote in the modern era was New Zealand in 1893.f
  34. The first woman to rule a country as an elected leader in the modern era was Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka, who was elected as prime minister of the island nation in 1960 and later re-elected in 1970.f
  35. Women currently hold 17% of Congressional and Senate seats and 18% of gubernatorial positions in the U.S.h
  36. According to an ancient Sumerian legend, the universe was created by a female, the goddess Tiamat. This role of a female creator is not unique, as the Australian Aboriginal creation myth also credits the creation of life to a woman.d
  37. The earliest recorded female physician was Merit Ptah, a doctor in ancient Egypt who lived around 2700 B.C. Many historians believe she is the first woman recorded by name in the history of all of the sciences.d
  38. A person’s gender is biologically determined by the sex chromosomes, one set of a human’s 23 pairs of chromosomes. Women have two X chromosomes, while men have one X and one Y chromosome.a
  39. The world’s first novel, The Tale of Genji, was published in Japan around A.D. 1000 by female author Murasaki Shikibu.d

-- Posted April 30, 2009

References

a Carlson, Karen J., Terra Ziporyn, and Stephanie Eisenstat. 2004. The New Harvard Guide to Women’s Health. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

b DuBois, Ellen Carol and Lynn Dumenil. 2005. Through Women’s Eyes: An American History with Documents. Cranbury, NJ: Bedford/St. Martins.

c Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd ed. 20 vols. 1989. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

d Pomeroy, Sarah B. 1991. Women’s History and Ancient History. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.

e Reilly, Michael. April 1, 2009. “More Girls Born in the Tropics.” Accessed April 13, 2009.

f Seager, Joni. 2003. The Penguin Atlas of Women in the World: Revised and Updated. New York, NY: Penguin Books.

g United Nations Statistics Division. 2006. “Statistics and Indicators on Women and Men.” Accessed April 14, 2009.

h U.S. Census Bureau. 2009. “Women’s History Month: March 2009.” Accessed April 11, 2009.