Optimistic women would like to think that gender equality in the workforce has leveled out since women suffrage movements; however, too much remains the same since 1970. Data from the United States Census Bureau show some improvements for women, for example their presence in the labor force. However women are still receiving unequal pay; women’s salaries are still a percentage of men’s salaries in their respective fields.
On the positive side, women and men are beginning to equal out in terms of representation in the Labor Force. Men are making up nearly 53% of the workforce with women making up approximately 47% (as of 2010). These rates are on the rise, but will, and could they ever be 50/50?
Women continue to be employed in specific occupations that have been historically and stereotypically placed. Women make up over 90% of secretaries, registered nurses and dental assistants. Do men not want these jobs for stereotypical reasons? Are women really ‘better’ at these jobs?
Women’s salaries are still unequal when compared to men’s salaries. As of 2012, women’s salaries of all ages were approximately 85% of men’s salaries. Women from 25-34 years old are only making 90% of what men earn. The age group with the lowest salary comparison is 45-54 year old’s who earn only 75% of what men earn. (Check out the graph which shows all age comparisons at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2013/ted_20131104.htm)
American culture can be the culprit for the gender biased workforce. With the consistently rising prices across the board: education (college expenses in particular), food, technology etc., single-income families are unable to support these new expenses. Therefore, women began entering the workforce at faster speeds than ever before to help support their families. This forced American culture to change their mindset and begin to see women as equals in the workforce. Similar to when economies are destroyed during war times and women are driven into the workforce, these past rises in wages caused huge waves of women into the workforce.
Are women on the verge of catching up to men in the workforce? Some economists argue that within the next 50 years women’s labor force growth will slow. For the past year female labor participation rate has stayed around 56.8% roughly. Are we seeing the first signs of this slow-down in the growth of women in the labor market?
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics