October 23, 1997 in Nation/World

Management Jobs Elude Minority Women Pay Lags Far Behind Earnings For White Males

Maggie Jackson Associated Press
 

The first tally of black, Asian and Hispanic women in corporate management shows strikingly just how far behind they are in the pecking order of the business world.

They earn only 57 cents for every $1 made by their white male counterparts. They make up 10 percent of the work force, yet hold only 5 percent of management jobs.

It’s a situation that must be remedied - and studied - as the demographics of the work force change and fewer white men enter the labor pool, said Katherine Giscombe, author of the study released Wednesday by Catalyst, a research organization that works to advance women in the business world.

“If business doesn’t do something about making its environment better for women of color, it’s going to be in trouble,” Giscombe said.

The study only briefly touches on possible reasons for minority women’s slow progress - their clustering in low-paying industries, for example, and the lower educational status of some groups. A report to be issued next year will tackle further the complicated picture behind the tally.

But ask women who have fought their way up in the business world and you’ll quickly get an intense picture of the obstacles they have faced, including the idea that they are the “quota hires.”

“There’s a myth - and many times I’ve been told - that we’re affirmative-action hires,” said Regina Pacheco Bursten, a former consultant who left corporate life last year to get a graduate degree at the University of Colorado. “The truth is that (my background) may open more doors, but you have to perform twice as hard to overcome the perceptions.”

While minority women make up 10 percent of the 127 million American work force, they hold only 5 percent of the total 7.5 million management jobs, according to Catalyst’s study of census data. All women hold 40 percent of total managerial jobs, according to the census, which uses workers’ descriptions of their jobs in making the tallies.

Compared with white women, minority women also are underrepresented in management circles. While whites make up 86 percent of female managers, blacks make up 7 percent; Hispanics, 5 percent; and Asians, 2.5 percent.

Asian women managers, however, fare best in pay, perhaps because they are best-educated of all categories of women and also tend to live in the high cost-of-living Northwest.


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