What’s The Deal With Women In The Workplace?

Will The Current Economic Conditions Preclude A Surge In Women Advancement?

Hillary Clinton’s historic bid for president seems to be coming to a decisive end. Peggy Orenstein, contributing writer for the New York Times, discussed what the Senator’s run may actually mean to women and young girls in this article.

To date, 42 out of 396 (10.6 percent) CEO replacements this year are women, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. which tracks CEO departures and replacements daily. In 2007, 11.8 percent or 121 out of 1,020 CEO replacements were women. Only 12 women head Fortune 500 companies.

A BusinessWeek study found that men have suffered significant job losses under the current economic downturn, even as women continue to gain jobs. This is probably explained by the fact that the industries bleeding jobs are historically male-dominated: construction, financial, real estate, etc. Meanwhile, the positions being created are ones traditionally held by women: teachers, nurses, home health aids, etc.

Women are receiving more college degrees – and at the top of their classes, no less – than men. A Princeton Review article finds almost as many women are entering law, medical and veterinary schools as men. Women make up only 30 percent of business school enrollees, but their numbers are growing quickly. Yet, despite these gains, women still earn a fraction of what men do for the same work.

Lisa Belkin of the New York Times discussed this issue as well in her May 18th article “Diversity Isn’t Rocket Science, Is It?” Why does it seem that so many highly educated women aren’t pursuing careers in law, medicine and business?

One answer that many experts point to is the obvious: women start families. What is more time-consuming and challenging than rearing children? But there are thousands of mothers who are at the same time reaching the top of their fields.

It will be interesting to see if role-reversal occurs as a result the current economic conditions, with more men staying at home with the children, while their degree-holding wives start or further their careers as engineers, lawyers and doctors. Perhaps a growing number of men will begin to breakout from traditional gender roles and turn toward nursing and teaching, where jobs are more plentiful. Or maybe, after the downturn has run it course, we will blindly continue down the same path with men dominating jobs in business, science and heavy labor, and women poorly represented among the upper ranks of corporate America, which, in our opinion, would be an unfortunate step in the wrong direction.

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