We were curious about who might fall in the middle of the 30-year-old experience in America. So we asked The Washington Post data team: What are the experiences of the median 30-year-old American woman? We wanted to know about marital status and number of children, education level and salary, homeownership and dress size. The data reporters pored over census data and studies to create a rough profile.

Then we went out and found her.

Samantha Smith has the experiences of the median 30-year-old American woman, according to census data: She has one child, some college education, but not a four-year degree. She does not own a home. In different ways, too, her life is like a lot of others: She makes close to $37,000, a 30-year-old woman’s average salary. Soon she’ll be married, like 48 percent of women her age. She has the most common last name in the country. Like 56 percent of 30-year-old American women today, she is white. She is the average dress size: a size 18.

Samantha Smith, right, stands with her fiancé, Mike Neuhs, and her 10-year-old daughter, Mykayla, outside their home in Roanoke, Va.
Samantha Smith, right, stands with her fiancé, Mike Neuhs, and her 10-year-old daughter, Mykayla, outside their home in Roanoke, Va.

What is being 30 like? We spent a year answering that question.

In 1989, the most popular name for girls in America was Jessica. In 2019 ...