Women have been doing some serious glass-ceiling cracking since the 1960’s. Young women are increasingly working in fields traditionally dominated by men.
Today, female college graduates ages 30 to 34 are just as likely to be employed as doctors, dentists, lawyers, professors, managers and scientists as they are to be employed as teachers, nurses, librarians, secretaries or social workers.
This is a big deal, and reflects the closing of a substantial gap. Women in the 1960’s were 7 times more likely to work in traditionally female occupations. Studies estimate that 15% to 20% of wage growth in the last 50 years was due to a decline in barriers to occupational choice.
So we’ve made a lot of progress, but clearly there’s more work to be done to get more women into predominately male-dominated fields and more men into female-dominated fields. For example, less than 20% of graduates in computer science and engineering are women, down from 37% in 1985. Reducing barriers to female occupational choice, including gender discrimination, would not only raise women’s earnings, but would also increase overall productivity by better matching workers’ skills to jobs.