Woman wearing all black being interviewed by a journalist.
Chicago Star
Why Women Build Matters

Despite the fact that it is harder for women to become homeowners than it is for similarly situated men, single women are currently outpacing single men when it comes to homeownership, both here in Chicago and across the country. Homeownership is not only a powerful wealth-generating tool; it also improves the health, educational, and social outcomes for individuals and their children.

To achieve gender equality and to provide children with futures of opportunity, we must take affordable homeownership seriously. Women Build exists to do just that. It’s not just 780 women coming together to build houses – it’s 780 women coming together to build strength, stability, and equality.

Woman wearing a hard hat in a framed house, pointing off frame

Chicago Star
Homeownership Benefits

Stable, quality, and affordable homeownership and why it matters:


  •  A home is typically the largest asset a household will have and its equity increases a household's wealth over time. 
  •  An affordable mortgage gives households a predictable, controlled amount for their shelter for decades, as opposed to facing the volatility of rent increases that plague quickly-changing city markets.
  •  In 2021, the National Association of Realtors estimated the average homeowner's net worth at about $300,000, almost 40 times that of renters' $8,000.1 Over the past 33 years, the median wealth gap between homeowners and renters has increased by 70%, while the average wealth gap increased more than 250%.2

  • Compared with renters, homeowners generally had lower prevalence of chronic health conditions, especially among those aged 45 to 64 years.3
  • It is also associated with a variety of negative health outcomes, including asthma and cardiovascular disease risk factors.4
  • The Gallup poll found 27th% of respondents delayed treatment due to costs even for "very or somewhat serious" conditions.5


  • Access to affordable, quality housing promotes healthy development and leads to better educational outcomes.6
  • Frequent residence changes resulting from housing instability often result in frequent school changes that can make students less likely to complete high school on time and more likely to complete fewer years of school.7

Woman looking solemnly off frame, while standing on scaffolding

Chicago Star
The Gendered Roadblocks

Why it's harder for women to become homeowners:

Unequal Pay and Uneven Care Responsibilities

  • Women in full-time, year-round job were estimated to make 84 cents for every dollar a man makes in the United States in 2022. Across all types of workers, that gap is lowered to 78 cents—adding up to a difference of $11,450 over the course of the year8 There is not a state in the United States where women have an average higher salary than men and the median income of households headed by women is almost $20,000 lower than those headed by men.9
  • In 2022, the wage gap in Illinois between men and women workers is $11,046, higher than the national average of $10,381. This 18.1% difference between the earnings of men and women working in year-round, full-time positions is reflective of the wealth disparities between men and women in the labor market and many other systemic barriers.10
  • As of 2023, 80% of single-parent households in the United States are headed by women.11 Similarly, women are significantly more likely to take on the vast majority of unpaid household and care work, such as primary child and elder care, in addition to their jobs and paid labor.12 These uneven caregiving responsibilities prevent women from equally investing their time and financial resources into homeownership. Additionally, women who return to the workforce often suffer a wage penalty that negatively impacts both opportunities for advancement and equal compensation for labor.13  


Higher Mortgage Denials and Mortgage Rates, Despite Superior Payment Performance

  • As a result of earning less than single men, single women borrowers have a higher mortgage debt relative to income (3.3x a single woman's income vs 3.2 a single man's income).14
  • Single women spend about 2% more when they buy a house, and when it is time to sell it, they get a price 2% less, which is 1.5% less in annual returns. That translates to losing $1,600 per year relative to single men on the same house.15 In 49 of 50 states, women pay higher mortgage rates than men.16


It's Even Harder for Black Women

  • Wage and wealth gaps are considerably higher for Black women and women of color who are most likely to be paid less for the same jobs despite similar levels of education and experience.17 Black women also face discrimination in recruitment, hiring and promotion as well as occupational segregation and underrepresentation in higher-paid positions where, even when occupying a similar job, Black women earn 67.6% of the income of white men.18
  • In 2019, the median wealth of a single white man under the age of 35 ($22,640) was 3.5 times greater than that of single white women ($6,370) and 224 times greater than that of single Black women ($101).19

Woman wearing hard hat and protective eyewear smiling on construction site

Chicago Star
Nevertheless, She Persisted

Despite all of these hurdles, single women are outpacing single men when it comes to homeownership.

  • As of January 2021, single women own 2.64 million more homes in 50 of the largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. Overall, single women own 10.76 million homes while single men own roughly 8.12 million homes and there is not a single city among the list of 50 largest cities where single male homeownership outnumbers female homeownership.20
  • In Illinois, single women own 3.66% more homes than single men.20

Two women construction volunteers using a chopsaw

Chicago Star
The Role of Women Build

Together, as a community of more than 780 women strong, we will:

  • Help more women become owners of stable, quality, and affordable homes.
  • Help more women grow their wealth and independence.
  • Help more women build futures of opportunity for their children.
  • Help move the needle on the gender wealth gap.



1. https://cdn.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2022-snapshot-of-race-and-home-buying-in-the-us-04-26-2022.pdf, page 5.
2. https://www.urban.org/urban-wire/wealth-gap-between-homeowners-and-renters-has-reached-historic-high

3.  https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2024/23_0324.htm
4. https://housingmatters.urban.org/research-summary/how-does-housing-affect-heart-health
5. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2023/03/10/1160702365/high-inflation-and-housing-costs-force-americans-to-delay-needed-health-care
6. https://www.opportunityhome.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/OSAH-Housing_Education-Brief-1.pdf

8. https://nationalpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/americas-women-and-the-wage-gap.pdf
9. https://www.business.org/hr/benefits/gender-pay-gap/;  http://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/04072021_homeownership.asp
10. https://www.business.org/hr/benefits/gender-pay-gap/;
11.  https://singlemotherguide.com/single-mother-statistics
12. https://iwpr.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/IWPR-Providing-Unpaid-Household-and-Care-Work-in-the-United-States-Uncovering-Inequality.pdf
13. https://www.payscale.com/research-and-insights/gender-pay-gap/
14. https://www.urban.org/urban-wire/three-challenges-facing-single-female-borrowers-entering-mortgage-market
15. https://insights.som.yale.edu/insights/single-women-get-lower-returns-from-housing-investments 16.https://www.housingwire.com/articles/women-pay-higher-mortgage-rates-in-49-states/ ; https://www.bankrate.com/loans/personal-loans/history-of-women-and-loans/ 
17. https://www.payscale.com/research-and-insights/gender-pay-gap/; https://www.aauw.org/resources/article/black-women-and-the-pay-gap/
18. https://iwpr.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Shortchanged-and-Underpaid_Black-Women-and-the-Pay-Gap_FINAL.pdf; https://www.aauw.org/resources/article/black-women-and-the-pay-gap/
19. https://www.brookings.edu/articles/the-black-white-wealth-gap-left-black-households-more-vulnerable/
20. https://www.lendingtree.com/home/mortgage/single-women-own-more-homes-than-single-men-do/