Number of women managers barely grows

By Charles Riley, staff reporter

NEW YORK ( -- The corporate glass ceiling has been cracked, but the number of women breaking through it is largely stagnant, according to a government report released Tuesday.

The Government Accountability Office said the number of women in management positions grew by only one percentage point between 2000 and 2007.

Women held 40% of management jobs in 2007, compared to 39% in 2000. By comparison, the number of women in nonmanagement positions held steady at 49% over the same time period.

Commissioned by the Joint Economic Committee, the analysis is based on data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey and is broken down into 13 industry sectors.

The retail trade industry had the largest gap between women in the number of women in managerial (36%) and nonmanagement jobs (51%).

And while fewer management positions are held by women, they are also paid less than their male counterparts.

In 2000, women in management positions made on average 79 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. By 2007, that figure had ticked up to 81 cents.

"[G]ains in women's earning power, or the absence of progress on that front, is an economic security issue for families," said committee chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat, at a Capitol Hill hearing on Tuesday.

The pay gap is notoriously difficult to measure, and while the study accounted for variables like age, education and hours worked beyond full time, the authors acknowledged that differences in pay could be explained by factors for which they lacked data.

According to one expert, the lack of women in management positions has an impact on profits.

"[It's] like playing cards with half a deck," said Ilene Lang, chief executive of Catalyst, a research organization that has studied the issue.

"Women aspire to success just as much as men do, and they define it similarly," Land told lawmakers. "But until women achieve parity in pay and business leadership roles, they will be marginalized in every other arena."

In 2009, President Obama signed The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which gives workers alleging unequal pay the right to sue within 180 days of their most recent paycheck.

But any effect from that legislation was not included in Tuesday's GAO report, which included data only up to 2007.

Maloney said the law is an "important start" but that additional legislation is necessary to close the loopholes in the Equal Pay Act that allow discrimination to persist.

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