Women still striving to break ‘glass ceiling’ in the workplace
)RU PiOOiRnV RI yHDUV VinFH WKH fiUVW Homo sapiens walked on Earth, men of our species decided that women would cook the venison and raise the children while men hunted. In modern times, the men become the CEOs of major companies while their wives heat the food in the microwave and, of course, raise the children.
This division of labor began to change in 1964 when the United States Civil Rights Act prevented discrimination in employment based on sex, race, religion or color of one’s skin. On March 24, 19U6, the Wall Street Journal described a nHw WHUP: 7KH “JODVV FHiOinJ.” ,W GHscribed how women and minorities were up against an invisible glass ceiling that had to be penetrated.
After millions of years, women were being recognized and given the respect to which they were entitled. They could do more than just cook and raise the kids. Finally, women were permitted to further their education and partake in the workforce. Women and minorities make up two-thirds of the population and 57 percent of the workforce. But it’s a slow path for a woman to become a CEO or have a top management position.
Women make up only 26 percent of state judges and their income is only 74 percent of that of male lawyers. They have an earning gap that is 23 percent less than men although nearly one-half of recent law school graduates are women. Ninety percent of female lawyers have suffered sexual discrimination. In the medical profession, two-thirds are women. However, female doctors earn 1U percent less than male doctors. Ac- cording to statistics, male professors of medicine outnumber female professors of medicine, 5-1.
The glass ceiling of 19U6 brought to the attention of America that TuDOifiHG wRPHn wHUH EHinJ GHniHG higher positions on the corporate ladder and did not get equal pay for similar types of work. Women with M.B.A. degrees from business schools receive salaries that are $4,600 less than that paid to men. Across the pond, in most European countries, women occupy fewer than one-in-10 top positions in science facilities.
A 2011 U.S. government report did show that as the years go by, women receive higher salaries. Despite the gains, women still have a median weekly income that is 70.5 percent that of men and earn 75 percent of what a man would earn at the same job. And women hold only 16 percent of the top executive positions in America’s largest corporations and enterprises because they usually have to accept lower paying work. The gap between women and men reveals that women who are full-time employees make 17 percent less than men and that income gap becomes larger at higher salaries. This occurs even though the percentage of all adult women who are working has increased from 33 percent in 1950 to 61 percent in 1999. Women lag behind men in degrees in math, physical sciences, engineering and computer science.
The income difference between women and men is not new. In the 1Uth century, women were basically slaves in a home. They cleaned and cooked and were treated poorly by the man of the house even if he was a husband. This lifestyle was accepted as normal. It was quite evident in the life of William Herschel who became a famous astronomer. He discovered the planet Uranus and catalogued many stars of the heavens. William lived with his sister, Caroline, who became a singer and an astronomer and worshiped her brother. Caroline discovered nine comets and did the bookkeeping and many other chores for William. Her terrible life was expected and accepted by Caroline and other women in the 1700s.
The treatment of women over the centuries can be measured by their lack of success until the late 19th century. From the 1700s onward, very few women were outstanding in VFiHnFH DnG RWKHU fiHOGV. 0DUiH Curie received two Nobel Prizes, one in 1903 and one in 1911. The fiUVW RnH in 1903 in SKyViFV wDV JiYen on the insistence of her husband, Pierre. This seemed to show the world that women can make major contributions as they do today.
In recent years, women have been cracking that glass ceiling. Unfortunately, it will still take many years until that ceiling is gone.
Dr. Milton Friedman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.