Erica Hill | BIO
If you’re not a working woman, you don’t need to look far to find one. Women now account for half of the U.S. workforce, and they are increasingly a major economic force within their families, as more women take on the role of “breadwinner.” Despite their solid place in the workforce alongside men – and most families’ need for women to work - it is impossible to ignore the wage gap. Women make 77 cents for every dollar a man brings home. Seventy-seven cents. It is a sobering figure, and a telling one.
Fortune illustrates the chasm in simple numbers from some of the nation’s top earners. The magazine put together lists of the 25 highest-paid women and the 25 best-paid men. Below are the salaries of the top three on each list – I’ll let you guess which salaries belong to the female execs, and which belong to the males.
1. $42.4 million
2. $23.9 million
3. $20.3 million
1. $112.5 million
2. $104.5 million
3. $84.5 million
Interesting the difference in those numbers, no? There are other factors that need to be taken into account if one is to compare salaries, among them experience, health of the company and the industry, but still, you can’t ignore the paychecks.
Certain areas of the economy are much more female-friendly. The National Association of Female Executives has its own list of top companies for women. Interestingly, many of the places where women are seeing the greatest advancement and opportunity are in the technology, IT and manufacturing sectors. Financial companies and Wall Street, seen by many as the ultimate “boys' club,” do not score nearly as well.
Women have, of course, made great strides in just the past few decades. The fact that we have these lists is a major improvement. There was a time when few women even dreamed of running a major company, let alone working in the upper echelon of management. I vividly remember my mother – who was the first in her family to earn a college degree – telling me when she went to college, there were basically three career options for women: nurse, secretary, or teacher. She said very matter-of-factly how wonderful it was that my sister and I had so many choices available to us, both in school and after graduation. She loved the fact that we never thought to limit ourselves to three professions.
Indeed women can now be found in nearly every industry and trade. We build homes and roads, cure the sick, deliver babies (funny how that was mainly a man’s job for so long – telling a woman how her body works and would react during childbirth), teach our children, invent mind-boggling technology, run companies, states, cities and even a few government offices. When Fortune magazine premiered its Most Powerful Women in Business list eleven years ago, only two of the women on that lists ran Fortune 500 companies. Today, 13 are at the helm. Yet, interestingly, in 2008 the top three professions for women, were nurse, secretary/administrative assistant and teacher, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
So how do women break into the “Boys' Club” while avoiding the other label that begins with a “B”? That’s just one of the questions we will answer Monday night on AC360°, in addition to asking our panel how – and when! – women will see that extra 23 cents on the dollar in their paychecks. Among the voices weighing in Monday, acclaimed personal finance expert Suze Orman, former White House Press Secretary and author of Why Women Should Rule the World, Dee Dee Myers, and Dr. Katrina Firlik, author of Another Day in the Frontal Lobe. While we wait to hear from them, let us know what you think about women in the workplace and in the “Boys' Club."
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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