Women in Management:

Female Managers' Representation, Characteristics, and Pay

GAO-10-1064T: Published: Sep 28, 2010. Publicly Released: Sep 28, 2010.

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Andrew Sherrill
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This testimony discusses issues related to women in management. Although women's representation across the general workforce is growing, there remains a need for information about the challenges women face in advancing their careers. In 2001, using 1995 and 2000 data from the Current Population Survey, we found women were less represented in management than in the overall workforce in 4 of the 10 industries reviewed. We also found differences in the characteristics and pay of male and female managers, which we explored using statistical modeling techniques. To respond to Congress' request that we update this information to 2007, we addressed the following three questions: (1) What is the representation of women in management positions compared to their representation in nonmanagement positions by industry? (2) What are the key characteristics of women and men in management positions by industry? and (3) What is the difference in pay between women and men in full-time management positions by industry?

When looking across all industries combined from 2000 to 2007, female managers' representation and differences between female and male managers' characteristics remained largely similar. However, differences narrowed substantially in level of education and slightly in pay. 1) In 2007, women comprised an estimated 40 percent of managers and 49 percent of nonmanagers on average for the 13 industry sectors we analyzed--industries that comprised almost all of the nation's workforce--compared to 39 percent of managers and 49 percent of nonmanagers in 2000. In all but three industry sectors women were less than proportionately represented in management positions than in nonmanagement positions in 2007. Women were more than proportionately represented in management positions in construction and public administration, and there was no statistically significant difference between women's representation in management and nonmanagement positions for the transportation and utilities sector. On average for the 13 industry sectors, an estimated 14 percent of female managers in 2007 were mothers--with their own children under age 18 living in the household--compared to 17 percent of female nonmanagers. 2) According to our estimates, 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. While the average female married manager earned the majority of her own household's wages, her share of household wages was smaller than the share contributed by the average male married manager to his household's wages. These findings were generally similar to findings for 2000. While both male and female managers experienced increases in attainment of bachelor's degrees or higher, women's gains surpassed men's. According to our estimates, male managers with a bachelor's degree or higher increased three percentage points from 53 percent in 2000 to 56 percent in 2007, while female managers with a bachelor's degree or higher increased 6 percentage points from 45 percent in 2000 to 51 percent in 2007. Similarly, while the share of male managers with a master's degree or higher went up less than 1 percentage point from 2000 to 2007, the share of female managers with a master's degree or higher rose nearly 4 percentage points. 3) The estimated difference in pay between female managers working full time and male managers working full time narrowed slightly between 2000 and 2007 after adjusting for selected factors that were available and are commonly used in examining salary levels, such as age, hours worked beyond full time, and education. When looking at all industry sectors together and adjusting for these factors, we estimated that female managers earned 81 cents for every dollar earned by male managers in 2007, compared to 79 cents in 2000. The estimated adjusted pay difference varied by industry sector, with female managers' earnings ranging from 78 cents to 87 cents for every dollar earned by male managers in 2007, depending on the industry sector.