Philip N. Cohen, Ph.D.
Department of Sociology
University of Maryland, College Park
Phone: 919 260 2868
Few would deny there was a gender revolution in the world of management from the 1970s through the mid-1990s or so. But after more than doubling from 1970 to 1990 – from less than 15 percent to more than 30 percent – women’s progress slowed. After more than 15 years, women have not yet reached 40 percent of those employed full-time in management occupations. Further, those managerial women have median earnings that are just 73 percent of men’s (compared with 78 percent overall).
Not only has the rate of growth in women’s representation in management stalled, but women have become increasingly concentrated in very specific types of positions. You might not be surprised to learn that 94 percent of day care center managers are women. But less obviously, women now make up three-quarters of the managers in the human resource offices of the banking industry, and the frontline offices of nursing homes. This is not integration: It’s ghettoization.
Meanwhile, at the very top of the corporate hierarchy, just 14 percent of Fortune 500 CEO and just 16 percent of their corporate board of director members are women (and only 3 percent are women of color). In heavy blue-collar industries managerial women remain nearly invisible.
The stall in women’s representation in management harms more than the individual women who might otherwise rise to the top. Such job segregation undermines future efforts to integrate workplaces, constricting people’s expectations with regard to men’s and women’s roles, skills, and potential. It also harms the people who work in these industries, because where men dominate leadership positions, workplaces are more gender segregated and more gender hierarchical for all employees.