Some days I can’t help but pick the scab. When I first saw The 25 Most Influential People on the Web I thought, jeez, here we are again. I’ve tweaked the graphic here, so you can see my point.
But then Women and the Labyrinth of Leadership showed up in my inbox, and I thought, world, you are saying something.
That there is a problem is not in doubt. Despite years of progress by women in the workforce (they now occupy more than 40% of all managerial positions in the United States), within the C-suite they remain as rare as hensâ€™ teeth. Consider the most highly paid executives of Fortune 500 companiesâ€”those with titles such as chairman, president, chief executive officer, and chief operating officer. Of this group, only 6% are women. Most notably, only 2% of the CEOs are women, and only 15% of the seats on the boards of directors are held by women.
I’d like to comment. But my mouth is full of bile, and my arms ache from pushing, and my back from bending and so I’ll just say, come on. It’s not Businessweek’s fault, they had to stretch to get 3. Something big and bad and ambient and pervasive is at work. Don’t believe me?
Look at the picture.
Because I can’t anymore.
A bit more, from the HBR article (well worth reading, btw, even if you have to pony up for it.)
The GAO researchers tested whether individualsâ€™ total wages could be predicted by sex and other characteristics. They included part-time and full-time employees in the surveys and took into account all the factors that they could estimate and that might affect earnings, such as education and work experience. Without controls for these variables, the data showed that women earned about 44% less than men, averaged over the entire period from 1983 to 2000. With these controls in place, the gap was only about half as large, but still substantial. The control factors that reduced the wage gap most were the different employment patterns of men and women: Men undertook more hours of paid labor per year than women and had more years of job experience.
Although most variables affected the wages of men and women similarly, there were exceptions. Marriage and parenthood, for instance, were associated with higher wages for men but not for women. In contrast, other characteristics, especially years of education, had a more positive effect on womenâ€™s wages than on menâ€™s. Even after adjusting wages for all of the ways men and women differ, the GAO study, like similar studies, showed that womenâ€™s wages remained lower than menâ€™s. The unexplained gender gap is consistent with the presence of wage discrimination.
Similar methods have been applied to the question of whether discrimination affects promotions. Evidently it does. Promotions come more slowly for women than for men with equivalent qualifications. One illustrative national study followed workers from 1980 to 1992 and found that white men were more likely to attain managerial positions than white women, black men, and black women. Controlling for other characteristics, such as education and hours worked per year, the study showed that white men were ahead of the other groups when entering the labor market and that their advantage in attaining managerial positions grew throughout their careers. Other research has underscored these findings. Even in culturally feminine settings such as nursing, librarianship, elementary education, and social work (all specifically studied by sociologist Christine Williams), men ascend to supervisory and administrative positions more quickly than women.