Managing women

The march of progress, by baby steps.

The Government Accountability Office has a new report out on the progress of women in management in the 2000s. And by progress, I mostly mean in terms of the passage of time. From 2000 to 2007, the percentage of managerial workers who were women increased from 39% to 40%. Matt Huffman, Stefanie Knauer and I have previously reported that women’s entry into management slowed in the 2000s, up to 2005.

The report calls attention to the role of family barriers to women’s advancement. Notably, they found that women in management were less likely to be married and have children than men:

And the pay gap among managers was larger among those with children. The adjustments they made, which included marital status and presence of children, narrowed the gender among managers with children from 66% to 79% in 2007. That means those factors are an important part – though not the only part – of the pay gap.

Source: From the report. The “adjusted” pay gap controls for age, hours worked beyond full time, race and ethnicity, state, veteran status, education, industry sector, citizenship, marital status, and presence of children in the household.

The GAO report and news reports on it focused on which industries have more of fewer female managers, but they did not include a breakdown of managerial occupations, which we have found is crucial. There is a lot of job segregation by gender among managers. As they sliced it, lower level human resource managers and CEOs are all counted as “managers.”

This all matters for gender inequality more broadly, as our research shows that having more women in management improves the gender situation for women below them in workplaces as well as the labor market more generally.

The implications of this and other aspects of the gender gap were the subject of a hearing before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress yesterday, including as experts my friend Michelle Budig (who appears at 53:40 in the video), Catalyst, and others. Michelle was the co-author of the classic article, “The Wage Penalty for Motherhood.”

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