Women in Management:

Analysis of Female Managers' Representation, Characteristics, and Pay

GAO-10-892R: Published: Sep 20, 2010. Publicly Released: Sep 28, 2010.

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Andrew Sherrill
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According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women made up nearly 47 percent of the total workforce in the United States in July 2010. Women's participation in the labor force, particularly among women with children, is much higher today than several decades ago. For example, using data from the Current Population Survey, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that couples in which only the husband worked represented 18 percent of married couple families in 2007, compared with 36 percent in 1967. In addition, an increasing proportion of women are attaining higher education. Among women aged 25 to 64 in the labor force, the proportion with a college degree roughly tripled from 1970 to 2008. Further, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that the percentage of female officials and managers in the private sector increased from just over 29 percent in 1990 to 36.4 percent in 2002. 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 your request that we update this information to 2007, this report addresses 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?

Based on our own analysis of 13 industry sectors in both 2000 and 2007, we found that in 2007 women comprised an estimated 40 percent of managers and 49 percent of nonmanagers on average for the 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. 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. 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. 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.

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  • employment icon, source: GAO

    Priority Open Recommendations:

    Department of Labor
    GAO-19-395SP: Published: Apr 3, 2019. Publicly Released: Apr 10, 2019.

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