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According to David Bloom, Harvard economist," The rise in the number of working women is probably the single most important change that has ever taken place in the American labor market" (1986, p. 25). In the next twenty years the most important expected change is in the kinds of jobs that women hold (Galagan, 1986, p. 4). One change already in place is a sharp increase in the number of women in management. From 1970-1985, the proportion of women in management nearly doubled. In fact, close to one-third of management positions are filled by women ("Why Women Get the Jobs," 1986, p. 14). Despite these numbers, few women make it beyond entry-level positions. Women are seriously underrepresented in administrative management, filling "only 5-10% of top executive positions" (Bloom, 1986, p. 27). Earnings of women managers reflect this underrepresentation in high level management. Typically, many of the managerial positions filled by women are dead-end, removed from a firm's centers of power and profit (Stead, 1985, p. 24). Although starting salaries are roughly equivalent for males and females, female salaries lag in later years. Two studies show that four to ten years after receiving an MBA, women earn about 80% as much as men with the same number of years of experience (Stephan, 1987, p. 38). On average, women managers earn about half as much as male managers (Stead, 1985, p. 25). Why do so few women break into upper level management jobs? This article will explore this question along with some prospects for increasing the number of women in executive management.

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This issue is also considered v.5 of the initial publication series of Major Themes in Economics.


©1989 by the Board of Student Publications, University of Northern Iowa



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