The cover letter on a Government Accountability Office report to the Congressional Joint Economic Committee states that women comprise nearly half of the workforce at 47% as of July 2010. While the number of women earning college degrees has tripled between 1970 and 2008, the letter read, they are less well represented among management. The GAO cited the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission data, which found that female officials and managers in the private sector increased from just over 29% in 1990 to 36.4% in 2002. Women must do their own legwork to raise our collective stature beyond the height of our pumps in 2013.
Between 2000 and 2007, male to female ratios in management was flat across 13 sectors, the GAO found. In 2007 women accounted for 40% of managers and 49% of nonmanagers, while figures from 2000 indicate women represented 39% of managers and 49% of nonmanagers.
The GAO also found that female managers in 2007 had less education, were younger on average, were more likely to work part-time, and were less likely to be married or have children, than male managers. A lot of these factors are very personal choices and they all can be for very noble reasons. It’s nothing anyone else can decide for you. You’re welcome to the sisterhood if and when you’re ready.
But when your personal journey leads you toward career aspirations, do it right. When a job a level up becomes available, go for it. No one else is going to do it for you. Don’t just hope to get recognized. Management wants someone who can demonstrate they’re a leader and can assert themselves. Gather advice from mentors and colleagues, pull up your big-girl pants and go for it.
Not only are women underrepresented in management, but pay differences also continue to tug at our skirt hemlines. On average, married female managers earned the majority of household wages, but her share was smaller than the average male married manager; this statistic held steady between 2000 and 2007, according to the GAO. The pay gap did narrowed slightly between 2000 and 2007. After taking into account factors such as education level, the GAO estimated that female managers earn 81 cents to men’s dollar in 2007. This was up from 79 cents in 2000, and varied depending upon the sector.
The authors of A Woman’s Guide to Successful Negotiating recommend asserting yourself in salary negotiations from the start. A study of Carnegie Mellon University graduates discovered that male students were eight times more likely to negotiate for a larger starting salary than female students. The authors stated that was, in part, due to women’s poor negotiation skills or foregoing it entirely. They cite the experience of Maria Dorner, CEO of NewsMD Communications when early in her career, she took her mother’s advice: “You need them more than they need you.” She quickly learned this was the wrong strategy for valuing her work. She asked for double and got it only to learn that a male counterpart had just asked for and received triple. That might be a bit of an extreme example, but the idea is 1) know what you’re worth in the market that you’re in; and 2) be sure to assert yourself to achieve a fair goal. You are worth it—to yourself and your employer.
By Sarah Snell Cooke, publisher/editor-in-chief, Credit Union Times