My whole life I have heard that women are paid far less for the same or equivalent positions.  But why is this – and is it true?  So, I decided to research this topic.  It was rather eye-opening to learn some of the facts and statistics surrounding this subject.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg wrote a book called, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.   According to Sandberg, there are a variety of reasons do not hold equal power.  One huge problem, according to Sandberg is that women are taught not to seek power, therefore limiting their own ambitions and sabotage their careers.

  • 57% of college graduates are women, and 63% of those have master’s degree. That majority, however, seems to matter less as their careers progress.

·        21 of the Fortune 500 CEOS are women.

·        Women hold 14% of executive officer positions.

·        Women hold 16% of board seats.

·        Congress is 18% female.

·        In 1970, Women were paid $0.59 for every dollar men made. It's now $0.77.

Various studies have concluded that women must prove themselves more than men. One study found that men are promoted based on potential, while women are promoted on accomplishments.

Could it be that women are also holding themselves back? 

·        4000 employees at big companies were asked if they wanted to be CEO.  36% of men said they would.  Only 18% of women answered “yes.”

·        Far fewer women than men say they want to be president.

·        Middle school boys say they want to be leaders when they grow up. Middle school girls usually don't say that.

·        Successful women sometimes like "impostors" who will be found out.

·        Despite the fact that women generally outperform men, female surgical students give themselves lower grades.

·        Girls receive lower grades on tests when they have to check off M or F before taking it.

·        Men attribute their success to innate qualities and skills. Women attribute theirs to luck and support from others.

·        If a man fails, he’ll often say it is because they really weren't interested.  Women, on the other hand, blame their lack of ability.

·        Men are 60% more likely to think of themselves as "very qualified" to run for office.

So why do women seem to be less ambitious and confident?  Sheryl Sandberg’s research revealed that: 

·        Parents talk to girl babies more than boy babies.

·        Mothers overestimate their sons' ability to crawl but underestimate their daughters.

·        Mothers spend more time comforting and hugging infant girls.

·        Mothers spend more time just watching their infant boys play by themselves.

·        Teachers call on boys more often.

·        Teachers answer boys when they shout out an answer.  However, they often scold girls who call out, and tell them to raise their hands.

All these factors limiting women’s ambition can certainly affect individual women’s careers, but it also can affect the economy as a whole.  Why?  41% of women are primary breadwinners. 23% are co-breadwinners. 52% of black children are raised by a single mother.

The number of women working outside the home has increased dramatically since 1950 when about one in three women held jobs.  By 1998, nearly three of every five women of working age were in the labor force.  By 2010, nearly 65 million women held jobs, 53 % of them worked in the three industries that employed the most women: education and health services; trade, transportation, and utilities; and local government.

The Federal Glass Ceiling Commission released a report stating that only 7%-9% of senior managers at Fortune 1000 firms are women. Considering that women make up nearly half of the nation's workforce, this is a disturbing number. Highly educated and/or experienced women face their biggest challenges at upper levels of corporations. Well-qualified women face “glass ceilings,” due primarily to stereotypes or preconceptions (81%), and employers who are hesitant to “take a risk” by promoting a female (49%).

Women today are leaving the corporate world in huge numbers-twice the rate of men. They are leaving to find positions that are more satisfying and rewarding, or they are starting up their own business.

The National Foundation for Women Business Owners stated that women own approximately 7.7 million companies; an increase of 43% since 1990. Women are starting new businesses at twice the rate of men. Subsequently, big companies are losing valuable players. This is becoming costly to organizations that invested time and money in their employees.  Both organizations and women could benefit by reexamining the obstacles that prevent females from advancing and from being valued in the workplace.

I am not sure my research taught me anything about how this problem can be resolved, but it did prove to me that there definitely is a “glass ceiling” for women in the corporate world.  This is 2014.  Such discrimination should not exist.

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