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US Statistics & The Working Woman

Updated on April 8, 2016
Working Women
Working Women

Japan Has More Working Women!

Would it surprise you to know that The New York Times published an article in October 2015 saying that Japan now has a higher proportion of working women that the United States? The same article quoted Jason Furman, chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, as saying, “Everyone else is continuing to rise and we’ve declined, and now we’re basically tied with Japan. And Japan’s on the upswing and we’re still going down.”

In the same month of 2015, Forbes said that women accounted for 47.5% of the US labor force but only 4.8% of the Fortune 500 companies were led by a woman CEO. No, I am not trying to instigate another bra burning campaign but I do believe that the corporate world still holds challenges, even in the 21st century, for the feminine gender.

Women in the US Workforce
Women in the US Workforce | Source
Women Working Outside the Home
Women Working Outside the Home

The Story So Far

The story goes that women began to step out of the house in large numbers for the first time and look for ways to earn during the Second World War, when most of the men were away fighting for the country. However, even in the early 1960s, when only 37% of the women worked outside the home, according to statistics revealed by the Economic Research wing of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the American labor force was sharply divided. Even job advertisements in newspapers were published separately for men and women, with separate pay scales.

This was the time when women earned 59¢ for every dollar earned by men, giving rise to the still popular saying, “59¢ out of every dollar.” Despite the Congress passing the Equal Pay Act in 1963 and the recent Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, to prevent such discrimination and encourage women to join the work force, the Glassdoor Survey, across seven countries, in 2016, found that 45% of Americans still believe that there is a gender gap in pay scales. In fact, apparel retailer Foxcroft, with experience in helping women dress for work, says that every aspect of fitting into the corporate world continues to be challenging for women, from appearance to performance expectations.

Gap in Pay Between Working Women & Men
Gap in Pay Between Working Women & Men | Source
Rise in Participation Rate of Women in the US Workforce
Rise in Participation Rate of Women in the US Workforce | Source

Pay Gap: Women Versus Men in the Workplace

Cost of Women Not Working

The debate isn’t just about whether women are rising up the corporate ladder and are commanding the same salaries as men. The issue is much more basic for the common American. Women in the workforce not only ensure better standard of living for the entire family but also make a contribution to the nation’s economy. One can see the impact of women not being part of the work force just by looking at the cost of child care.

A 2015 research report by the Economic Policy Institute revealed that the basic family budget threshold for a two-child, two parent family ranges between $49,114 for Morristown, Tennessee, to $106,493 for Washington, DC. On an average, this type of family would need $63,741 to achieve an adequate standard of living. Can the average American family even achieve a modest standard of living with only one breadwinner?

Women in the Workplace

Women Less Likely to Get Promoted
Women Less Likely to Get Promoted

Women Are Still Less Likely to Advance

LeanIn.Org and McKinsey conducted a study in 2012, called Women in the Workplace. The study reviewed female leadership and gender equality across 118 companies and close to 30,000 employees. The key finding was that despite some degree of improvement, women continue to be underrepresented across every level of the corporate ladder, with the disparity being at its highest at the senior management levels. The study went on to say that some of the reasons for this disparity was that the playing field wasn’t level for women and gender diversity wasn’t a priority for a large number of organizations.

A few years later, in 2015, the McKinsey Global Institute published a report that revealed that $12 trillion could be added by 2025 to the global GDP if there was greater equality for women in the workplace. The report went on to say, “Gender inequality is not only a pressing moral and social issue but also a critical economic challenge.” If women are unable to achieve their full economic potential, the report feared that it could have serious consequences on the global economy. Isn’t it time we took up the cause of economic feminism?

Career Advancements Among Men and Women
Career Advancements Among Men and Women

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