Academic journal article Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal

Women's Status in the US Workforce 2000+

Academic journal article Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal

Women's Status in the US Workforce 2000+

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

The purpose of the research was to explore the status of women in the US workforce including (1) a brief history of women's entrance into the workforce, (2) a comparison of men and women's pay, work positions, and promotion possibilities, (3) a review of women entrepreneurs, and (4) an examination of obstacles facing women in the workplace.

Historical highlights reveal women's entry into the workforce and US demographics and projections are used to bring attention to "perhaps the most significant change in the history of the American workplace--the gender shift;" women now make up 46 percent of US workers. Women are becoming better educated and single moms who serve as the head of households are fast becoming the new norm.

Although tremendous growth in numbers of women participating in the workforce is evident, equal treatment is not. Women continue to make 72.2 percent of the Caucasian male and fill only 6.2 percent of top management positions. Barriers such as stereotypical attitudes, "good ole boy networks", and the "glass ceiling" continue to stifle women's achievements and contributions to the corporate world.

As a result, many women are electing nontraditional careers such as engineering and science technicians, computer specialists, and starting their own businesses. Women have also invaded and proven themselves successful in traditional white male bastions--architects, economists, pharmacists, lawyers, and journalists.

INTRODUCTION

A plethora of articles has been published addressing the significant changes in US society and workforce demographics. Massive changes have been documented by the U.S. Census Bureau, (2000), indicating the change in Caucasian population in 1950 of 89 percent, to the predicted 60 percent of 2050, revealed in Table 1.

Each decade manifests a decline in numbers of Caucasians in the US population and increases in minority numbers, especially since the 1990s. A significant growth in the Hispanic population is forecast, from 6 percent in 1990 to 20 percent by 2050. Although the total percentage of Asian Americans is small, this demographic group is currently the fastest growing in the US (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000).

Additionally, as indicated in Table 2, the number of older workers is forecast to increase significantly, graying US society and the labor force. The percentage of the US population of 45-54 year olds is predicted to increase from 19 to 24 percent, and of 55-64 year olds from 9 to 12 percent, and will significantly impact organizations, insurance costs, and social security and medicare benefits. Perhaps, however, the greatest demographic shift is the influx of women into the workforce; their proportion is expected to increase from 46 to 48 percent by 2005.

In general, these demographic changes are already reflected in today's work environment, but the effect will continue to increase through the first half of the Twenty-first Century. However, the "gender shift may be the most significant change in the history of the American workplace" (Judy & D'Amico, 1997, 52). According to the US Department of Labor Women's Bureau (2000), 62 million women were participating in the US labor force, i.e., six of every ten women 16 years and over were employed in 1999.

PURPOSE

The purpose of this research is to explore the status of women in the US workforce including (1) a brief history of women's entrance into the workforce, (2) a comparison of men and women's pay, work positions, and promotion possibilities, (3) a review of women entrepreneurs, and (4) an examination of obstacles facing women in the workplace.

WOMEN ENTER THE US WORKFORCE

Historical beginnings of women entering the workforce provide a foundation for evaluating growth, participation, capabilities, and contributions of women in the US workforce and in the economy. The number of women in the workforce steadily increased during the 1800's (The Effect, 1996). …

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