WASHINGTON—During the last several months the likes of Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin and Sen. Hillary Clinton showed the potential of working women on a national stage, but the latest data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics offers mixed messages on women in the U.S. workforce.
On average, women earned close to 21 percent less than men during the 21st century. Surprisingly, Asian and white women experienced the greatest disparity, earning 24.7 and 20.5 percent less, respectively, than average Asian and white men. Black women earned 8.2 percent less and Hispanic women earned 12 percent less than their respective male counterparts, according to the Bureau.
In September, unemployment rates for women decreased by about half of a percent, while those for males increased by the same percentage.
“Whatever preconceived notions you have about women in your workplace, women in general, women and business ownership—throw them out, they are myths,” said Mauricio Velasquez, president of The Diversity Training Group (TG), based in Herndon, Va. “Looks like the 2000s will be the decade of the woman.”
The latest statistics reveal that close to 9.1 million women in the United States are business owners.
The Department of Labor disclosed the 10 jobs with the highest earning potential for females. Those with annual salaries of close to $100,000 included pharmacists, chief executives, lawyers, computer scientists, software engineers, psychologists, physical therapists, management analysts, and human resource managers.
Registered nursing is one of the highest growth areas for women. Out of 2.6 million registered nurses, 91 percent are women. One million or more registered nurses are needed over the next eight years, and the projected growth rate is 23.4 percent versus 10.4 percent for all other occupations.
Companies “with three or more women on their senior-management teams scored higher on all nine organization criteria than did companies with no senior-level women,” claimed researchers from The McKinsey Quarterly, the publishing arm for New York-based McKinsey & Co., in a recently published series of articles about women in the workforce.
More women held high salaried positions than men in some industries, including accounting, auditing, medical and health services, financial and budget analysis, education, and real estate.
But on the whole, women are still a minority in most fields, especially in upper management. Velasquez’s article “Shattering the Glass Ceiling: A Strategy for Survival” says that there are only seven to nine percent female senior managers among Fortune 1000 companies.
Globally, not many women achieve senior level ranks. In the European Union, women hold 11 percent of senior-level positions—such as boards of directors and supervisory boards. Last year, less than 26 percent of South Korean companies had a female in a senior-level position.
In 2007, 39 percent of the managers at British bank Lloyds TSB Group Plc were females, up from 19 percent in 1998.
Why aren’t there more women in such positions? The McKinsey researchers point to a firm’s personnel department as the major roadblock for women being trained and promoted into upper level positions.
“Human resource policies can inadvertently hold women back,” wrote the McKinsey researchers. “Internal processes for identifying high-potential employees, for example, often focus on managers between the ages 28 and 35. Broadening the parameters to include years of employment at a company—thus taking into account time spent on maternity leave—can ensure that the evaluation processes don’t overlook qualified women.”