Not only has the pace of the gender revolution slowed down since it’s explosion in the 1970’s but gender inequality is being upheld even more so now by the gender wage gap. While women today occupy millions of more positions in management, those roles are concentrated in certain “feminized” fields and the wage gap is still an abyss women stare down every single day.
That’s according to a report in Harvard Business Review from William Scarborough, research assistant at the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy, based on an examination of data about full-time managers from the U.S. Census and American Community Survey for the years 1980 and 2010.
For women in health IT, the information and technology sector is even further behind. “So few computer and information systems managers existed in 1980 that data used here did not record this occupation,” Scarborough wrote. “By 2010, however, there were over 40,000 of these managers — a large enough number to warrant an occupational category.”
The best news is that women’s representation in management is at an all-time high. From 1980 to 2010, 4.5 million new managers entered the workforce and 2.6 million of them were women and 1.9 million were men. Diversity among women managers has seen small gains, with 18 percent of all new management positions filled by women of color. However, black women still remain hugely underrepresented, making up only four percent of managers.
In general, 1980 saw very few women managers and the ones who did work in managerial roles occupied positions traditionally held by men, Scarborough added. Fast forward to 2010, 70 percent of medical and health services managers are women, and education administration, human resources, property and real estate and finance have mostly female managers. However, women still fill less than one quarter of chief executive and public administrator roles and are underrepresented in general operations, computer information, transportation and industrial production.
Despite their majorities in certain fields, equal numbers most certainly don’t mean equal pay. Scarborough’s analysis found that gender inequality is alive and well, and is playing out through salary disparities.
Survey data showed that in 1980 wage gaps were lower in fields where women were well-represented, but by 2010 that trend had flip-flopped and now it is greater in positions dominated by women. The lowest wage inequities exist where women occupy the smallest segment, including architecture, engineering and transportation.
“Perhaps most striking, though maybe not all that surprising, is that women are paid less than men across all management occupations,” Scarborough said. “To move toward gender equality, it’s critical to recognize how patterns of disadvantage have shifted over time and respond proactively. Organizations that want to lead this charge will be those that go beyond the focus on gender representation and consider the way gender inequality is reproduced through patterns of segregation and pay gaps.”