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Women and Work: Then, Now, and Predicting the Future for Women in the Workplace

Business Women in the Workplace

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Women and Work: Then, Now, and Predicting the Future for Women in the Workplace Copyright Kelly Young

Tired of reading about Carly Fiorina, the former Chairman and CEO of the merged Hewlett-Packard - Compaq? Fiorina and other successful women such as Condoleezza Rice, Sherry Lansing or Martha Stewart are the poster faces for the 'You've come a long way, baby' spin doctors. I applaud and laud the work success of these business women and hope all people learn from their wisdom and achievements. Indeed, some of these women are my heroes. Rock on!

 

However, what is happening for the rest of the women in the workforce? More importantly, what does the future hold for business women in the workplace?

Do you want to know what women have achieved now and what the future holds for women and work? Let's polish up our crystal ball and make a few predictions based on current statistics and projections about women and work. I'll show you the then and now statistics and discuss the future of women and work. I'll also recommend objectives and ideas to help employers continue to accomplish this progress for women in the workplace. Read on.

What Percentage of Women Work?

Current:

"In 1950 about one in three women participated in the labor force. By 1998, nearly three of every five women of working age were in the labor force. Among women age 16 and over, the labor force participation rate was 33.9 percent in 1950, compared with 59.8 percent in 1998.

63.3 percent of women age 16 to 24 worked in 1998 versus 43.9 percent in 1950.

76.3 percent of women age 25 to 34 worked in 1998 versus 34.0 percent in 1950.

77.1 percent of women age 35 to 44 worked in 1998 versus 39.1 percent in 1950.

76.2 percent of women age 45 to 54 worked in 1998 versus 37.9 percent in 1950.

51.2 percent of women age 55 to 64 worked in 1998 versus 27 percent in 1950.

8.6 percent of women age 65+ worked in 1998 versus 9.7 percent in 1950.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor: Changes in Women's Work Participation

Current:

"As more women are added to the labor force, their share will approach that of men. In 2008, women will make up about 48 percent of the labor force and men 52 percent. In 1988, the respective shares were 45 and 55 percent."

Source: U.S. Department of Labor: Women's Share of Labor Force

Women and Absenteeism

Current:

As you might expect because of home and family matters, "in 1998, about 4 percent of full-time workers were absent from their job during an average work week — meaning they worked less than 35 hours during the week because of injury, illness, or a variety of other reasons. About 5.1 percent of women (including 5.6 percent of women aged 20 to 24) were absent in the average week, compared with 2.7 percent of men Among those absent, women were somewhat more likely to be absent for reasons other than injury or illness. One third of women’s compared with less than one-quarter of men’s absences were attributed to other reasons."

Source: U.S. Department of Labor: Women's Absenteeism

Prediction:

The number of women will continue to increase in the workforce. Women will continue to have primary responsibility for home and family matters, thus affecting work attendance negatively.

What Employers Can Do:

Employers will be challenged to provide family-friendly solutions for working people who need flexibility for child care and elder care. These solutions may include:

  • job sharing,
  • part-time employment,
  • staff working from home or telecommuting,
  • flexible starting and stop times and flexible core business hours, and
  • periodic paid and unpaid work interruptions for child care and elder care.

Attendance systems that are inflexible will drive qualified and committed employees to employers that address family issues with creativity and concern.

Employers need to pay more attention to the Equal Employment Opportunity guidelines. They exist to create equity and too many employers are still working them as a numbers game because of reporting requirements.

As recommended by the Women Employed Institute, make women more aware of careers that offer higher pay opportunities. Most women's jobs are clustered in "female" occupations that pay poorly. Promote and educate women about these opportunities so women pursue opportunities for education in these higher paying opportunities. Catalyst, which monitors the progress of women in the workplace, reported that as of 1998, only 2.7 percent of the highest-paid officers at Fortune 500 companies were women. Women continue to dominate lower paying domestic, clerical support, and administrative-type occupations.

Next, we'll take a look at how women have progressed in earnings and education and consider employer opportunities to escalate the progress.

Interested in Women's Earnings and Education?

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