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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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?

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