December 11, 1997 in Nation/World

More Women Managers, But Not At The Top Female Executives Continue To Earn Less Than Male Counterparts, And Glass Ceiling Still Prevails

Associated Press

Despite growing numbers of women in managerial jobs worldwide, women earn less than men in those positions and hold just 2 to 3 percent of the top spots, a U.N. survey reported Thursday.

The report by the International Labor Organization said a glass ceiling - an invisible barrier of male-dominated networks and prejudices - still prevents women from reaching the top jobs.

“Women today represent over 40 percent of the global work force and have gradually moved up the hierarchical ladder of enterprises,” the report said. “Yet rarely does their share of management positions exceed 20 percent. The higher the position, the more glaring the gender gap.”

In the United States and Canada, women make up 46 percent and 42 percent of management, respectively.

But the report cited a survey of the top 500 U.S. companies, which showed that women held just 2.4 percent of the highest-paid management jobs in 1995. And weekly earnings of women managers in the United States averaged 68 percent of those of male managers, it said.

A survey of 300 companies in Britain last year showed 3 percent of board members were women. Earnings of women professionals were 83 percent that of men - one of the highest levels in the world.

In Germany in 1995, a survey of the 70,000 biggest companies showed women held 1 to 3 percent of the top executive and board positions.

Although increasing numbers of mothers work outside the home in North America and Europe, in Japan most mothers still drop out of the labor force to care for their families, the report said.

Linda Wirth, author of the report, said she was optimistic that the remaining work force inequalities would be overcome in the next generation.

The report said women did better in the public than the private sector and fared best in industries employing large numbers of women, such as health and community services and the hotel and catering industry.

Women in management tend to be concentrated in functions such as labor relations and personnel, which are less likely to lead to top jobs than those in product development or corporate finance, the report said.

In politics, there have been only 25 female heads of state so far this century, Wirth said. But in the past decade the number of women in cabinet posts had doubled worldwide to 6.8 percent, from 3.4 percent.

Scandinavia came out on top, with half the 22 cabinet posts in Sweden last year being taken by women.

Women in developing countries generally are not faring as well as their counterparts in the industrialized world, the report said.

But there were exceptions. In Colombia, Uruguay, Venezuela and the Philippines - where women have seized educational opportunities and taken advantage of extended families to care for children - the number of professional women was higher than in many industrialized countries, it said.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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