Work & Economy
In 1996, women were less than 1 percent of auto mechanics
(0.6 percent), carpenters (0.9 percent), plumbers (0.7 percent), and only
1.1 percent of electricians, and 3.5 percent of welders.
The clustering of women in traditionally female occupations
directly limits women's earning power. For example, in 1996 engineers
had median weekly earnings of $949; in contrast, for elementary school
teachers' median weekly earnings that year were $662, about 30 percent
Gender stereotypes about careers still limit students' interest
and participation in career options. Developmental research by Linda Gottfredson
found that children begin to eliminate careers because they are the wrong "sextype" between
the ages of 6 and 8.
Although more women than ever before are in the workforce,
more than half (59 percent) of all women workers are still concentrated
in sales, clerical, and service positions.
In 1994 (most recent data available), although women constituted
68 percent of public elementary and secondary school teachers, they represented
only 24 percent of elementary and secondary school principals.
A gap in the career aspirations of boys and girls in science
or engineering exists as early as eighth grade. While male and female high
school seniors are equally likely to expect a career in science or mathematics,
male seniors are much more likely than their female counterparts to expect
a career in engineering.
Twenty-three percent of Latinas, 14 percent of African
American women, and 7 percent of white women dropped out of high school
Higher education lifts women out of poverty and increases
their earnings over other women. Women with a college degree earned almost
$11,000 more than women with a high school diploma ($26,841 versus $15,970)
Out of all persons in the labor force for at least half
of 1996 (the most recent year for which data are available), those with
less than a high school diploma had a higher poverty rate (16 percent)
than high school graduates (6 percent). Workers with an associate's
or a four-year college degree reported the lowest poverty rates, 3 and
1.5 percent, respectively.
Men earn more than women do even when they have lower levels
of education. In 1995, men with a bachelor's degree earned $46,111
while women earned $26,841. That same year, men with a high school diploma
earned only about $500 less than women with a bachelor's degree ($26,333
versus $26,841). That year a white man with a high school diploma earned
more than a woman college graduate of any racial, ethnic, socio-economic,
or ability group.
Women earn less than men in the same fields from the start.
In 1993 women college graduates generally received lower starting salaries
than the men in their graduating class. In social and behavioral sciences,
men had a median starting salary about $2,800 more than women in their
field. For business majors, men received $4,000 more than women.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that women
will increase to 47.5 percent of the labor force by 2008.
Although the employment gap is not widening between women
and men engineers, there is still a stubbornly wide gap between their numbers,
with women making up only 10.6 percent of all engineers in 1999. Engineering,
like occupations in the physical sciences and mathematics, is slow to attract
Of the 61.9 million women in the civilian labor force in
1996, 4.9 million (8.3 percent) were of Hispanic origin. The labor force
participation rate for Cuban women was 53.3 percent; for Mexican women,
52.8 percent; and for Puerto Rican women, 47.4 percent.
The number of Hispanic women outside the labor force has
been increasing steadily over the past decade at a rate of about 137,000
women per year. Slightly more than half-5.1 million out of 9.6 million-of
all Hispanic women were either working or looking for work in 1996, and
4.5 million were not in the labor force.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that the female
Hispanic labor force should grow from 4.8 million in 1994 to about 6.9
million in 2005 and that their labor force participation rate will be 53.6
percent. This 43 percent increase will be the greatest among almost all
other groups of women or men.
Women leave science and engineering careers twice as frequently
as men. M. J. Brodie, "Advancing Women Through Engineering," Career
Engineering, June 1996
Women's salaries in science and engineering
lag behind men's by 12 to 15 percent.
Women's share of administrative and managerial employment
was higher in the 1990s than it was in the 1980s in 51 out of the 59 countries
for which data is available.
Women's share of administrative and managerial employment
was 30 percent or more in 16 countries in the 1990s. This is higher than
the number of countries (8) in which women have 30 percent or more seats
United States ranks highest among countries in women's
share in decision making in management and in the economy.
In 1997, globally, women employed in industry and services
typically earned 78 percent of what men in the same sector earned, though
in some countries it was as low as 53 percent and in others as high as
In 22 out of 29 countries, the gender gap in earnings in
industry and services fell from the 1980s to the 1990s.
A narrowing of the gender gap in earnings does not necessarily
mean an increase in women's living standards. The gap can narrow as
a result of men's wages falling faster than women's, with declines
in real earnings of both women and men.
In 1998, among working age people, only 2.5
million or 28.5% of women with a work disability and only 2.7 million or
32.3% of men with a work disability participated in the labor force. In
contrast, 59.7 million or 75.8% of women with no work disability and 68.2
million or 89.1% of men with no work disability participated in the labor
According to data from the Survey of Income and Program
Participation (1994-95), only 24.7% of women with severe disabilities have
a job or business. Roughly 68% of women with non-severe disabilities are
employed compared to a 75% employment rate for women with no disabilities.
Most women with disabilities work in technical, sales, and administrative
Women with disabilities make of the smallest percentage
of the labor force. In the 1990s there have been no significant gains in
employment percentages of women with disabilities.
When controlling for other factors, young men with disabilities
earn $1,814 more per year than young women with disabilities.
Women are more likely to be living in poverty than men,
and people with a work disability are much more likely to be living below
the poverty level than those with no work disability.
In 1992, women aged 16 to 64 years with a work
disability had higher poverty rates (33.8%) than men with a work disability
About forty percent (40.5%) of women with a severe work
disability are living in poverty, compared to 31.2% of men with a severe
2 out of every 3 adults on the planet are women. Yet only
12 percent of elected representatives in the world's legislatures are
women. Only 24 women have been elected heads of state or government in
Around the world, women are paid an average of 30 to 40
percent less than men for the same work. Out of every 4 households throughout
the globe, 1 is headed by a woman.
Women are 73% of the elementary and secondary school teachers,
but only 35% of the principals.
Equal opportunity, as we have learned, is more than an open
gate. It is the appropriate complement of skills and fundamental self-esteem
that makes that open gate meaningful. To just open the gate is to engage
in a cruel gesture, no matter how innocently it is done.
Women and men who had taken at least 8 credits of math in
college (usually calculus) made more money than those who did not.