International Women's Day: Fascinating figures show the truth about a woman's life
Ever wondered when you'll hit your peak earning power? Or when you're most likely to go through the menopause? For International Women's Day, we've documented a woman's life in numbers to see just what's in store for you and how your life compares to a man's, from the moment you're born to the day you die.
Ever since records began in 1838, the number of boy babies has outnumbered girls at birth in the UK.
A ratio of roughly 105 male births to every 100 females is generally seen as natural and normal, but it is not clear why.
However, in countries such as China and India, where (generally speaking) boy babies are seen as more desirable and girl babies are sometimes selectively aborted, the ratio is – tragically – higher.
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The average age for a girl to have her first period is 12, according to the NHS (though they can start as early as eight). The number has lowered over the last 180 years – the average age in 1840 was a relatively late 16.5 years.
The reason for the fall is unknown but some experts believe it might reflect the better health, nutrition and environmental conditions in modern life. The age seems to be levelling off in many developed countries.
Astonishingly, it's thought that a girl will have between one to two million eggs in her ovaries at the time of birth, yet by puberty, only around 300,000 remain and of these, only about 500 will be ovulated during a woman’s reproductive lifetime.
Girls tend to perform better in exams than boys. In the 2021 A-level results, girls overtook boys in maths for the first time too.
The proportion of girls who achieved A grades or higher was 46.9% while boys stood at 42.1% for students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
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By the time she is an adult, the average woman in England will be 5ft 3ins tall (161.6cm) tall and will weigh 11st (70.2kg) according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
Women living in England or Wales will have an average of 1.96 children during their lifetime. Unfortunately, she will also earn less than the average man.
According to Full Fact, the average woman would earn £2.53 less per hour working part-time than the average man – or 18.4% less. Women with full-time jobs would still earn 9.1% less, or about £1.32 less per hour.
The average age at which a woman gives birth in the UK has risen while the birth rate has declined. From 2000 until 2012, the average age for mothers at childbirth increased from 28.5 to 29.8 years before reaching 30 in 2013.
In 2019, the average age of mothers was 30.7 years but for women having their first child it was 28.9 years.
While in 2020, the average age of 30.7 remained, the same report also found that, for the first time since records began, half of women in England and Wales hadn't had children by the time they reached 30.
32.3 or 33.8
The average age at marriage for opposite-sex couples in 2019 was 34.3 years for men and 32.3 years for women. This is a slight increase from 2018 for both men and women, continuing the trend of the overall rise in average age at marriage since the early 1970s.
For same-sex couples, the average age was slightly higher at 38.1 years for men and 33.8 years for women in 2019.
It’s at this age that women in the UK hit their ‘peak earning power’ and surprisingly, it’s four years earlier than men. In fact, until the age of 21, women’s average salaries are higher than men’s but from this point onwards men’s average earnings outstrip women’s.
In 2021, the average annual full-time salary for women was £28,300 compared with £33,400 for men – a difference of over £5,000.
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In the UK, this is the average age for a woman to reach menopause although it usually occurs any time between the ages of 45 and 55. But around one in a hundred women will experience it before the age of 40.
The law on retirement changed in 2011 to stop employers forcing people to retire at 65 so people can work for a long as they want – or need. But according to research, the average age for women to leave work is 63.6 years old while men retire over a year later at 64.7 years.
Women tend of outlive men by around three years on average. In fact, the most common age for women to die between 2018 to 2020 was 89.3 years compared with 86.7 years for men, although this figure may be affected in future years by the pandemic.
It is also estimated that the average woman’s heart will beat more than two billion times in her lifetime and – given you will have spent a whopping 26 years asleep – it might be worth investing in some quality bedding!
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