Wednesday, September 29, 2010

In US, 40% of Managers are Women - And Pay Has Increased!

In a report released Tuesday by the US Government Accountability Office, not much change has occurred in the number of female managers, their pay or their key characteristics in the period between 2000 and 2007, the years of the study.

The average pay increased by 2 cents: “When looking at all industry sectors together and adjusting for these factors, we estimated that female managers earned 81 cents for every dollar earned by male managers in 2007, compared to 79 cents in 2000. The estimated adjusted pay difference varied by industry sector, with female managers' earnings ranging from 78 cents to 87 cents for every dollar earned by male managers in 2007, depending on the industry sector.”

The number of managers with bachelor’s degrees or higher has increased for both males and females – from 53% to 56% for men and from 45% to 51% for women. 59% of female managers are married, compared to 74% of male managers. 63% of women managers have children compared to 57% of male managers. The percentage of female managers increased from 39% to 40%, and the number of female non-managers remained the same at 49%.

Generally, women were under-represented in upper management. However in several industries, they were proportionate or even over-represented: construction, public administration, transportation and utilities. The widest under-representation was in education and the retail trade where the majority of non-management workers were women, and most managers were men.

This study didn’t address the reasons for the gaps. I know there are many. From my own experience and the experiences of some of my clients I know that one reason for the pay gap is that women are less confident about negotiating for higher pay when first getting hired.

As a personal example, in applying for a management position, I accepted the first offer because it was higher than what I had set in my mind. Of course I would accept! However, later during a company-wide equity review, my salary was bumped up considerably to reflect the pay of other managers in my grade. I was both happy and depressed at the same time. I had missed out on higher pay for two years simply because I had not asked for it from the beginning. When I accepted a severance package from this same company a few years later, I was told “As a manager at your level you should have received stock options. We are going to give you the cash equivalent of the stock options you should have received.” Thank God this was an extremely fair and generous company. Most companies would not do either of those things. But it taught me a lesson. ALWAYS negotiate; never accept the first salary offer.

The reasons behind women’s promotion challenges are varied. Studies have indicated that women have a higher need for connection, authenticity, and balance. They are often held to a higher standard. Agentic behaviors (“typically masculine” leadership behaviors such as ‘command and control’) are often reinforced in traditional leadership cultures and that type of behavior is not expected from women.

Truly, the above paragraph could apply to many men as well. They may be overlooked for leadership roles because they do not lean toward agentic behaviors but work in that type of organizational culture. The male executives I coach appreciate a work environment that has more connection and balance, and where people can work according to their values and behave authentically. They know, as women need to understand, when it is sometimes appropriate to use agentic behaviors and when it isn’t.

I believe that the American work environment is slowly evolving to embrace the leadership of men and women who do understand the value of connection, authenticity and balance. When these humane and balanced leadership styles are more common, we will see more women in leadership positions.

We’ve come a long way – at least in hair styles!

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