9 Jobs Where Women Are Still Woefully Underrepresented Even Today
Although girls grow up being told that they can be anything they put their minds to, the reality is rather different. There are far too many jobs where women are still underrepresented today, and even when they manage to carve their own path into a profession, they're excluded from positions of power and paid far less than their male colleagues for the same amount of work — yet at the same time, they're held to stricter standards. Decades after the phrase entered the modern vocabulary, the glass ceiling remains intact in many ways.
Ironically, none of this is a secret. The wage gap, for example, is so widely acknowledged that there's an annual event dedicated to its existence: Equal Pay Day. The holiday, for lack of a better word, was created in 1996 by the National Committee on Pay Equity to raise public awareness of the disparity in pay for men and women. The chosen date symbolizes how long into the year women have to work to earn what men were paid in the year before. Although it falls on a different date every year, it always takes place on a Tuesday (a nod to how far into the week women have to work to earn a man's salary from the week before).
This year's Equal Pay Day will take place on April 4. To illustrate how many barriers still face women in the workplace, here are nine jobs where they're underrepresented.
Although women make up the vast majority of health care workers, they hold comparatively few positions of power or prestige. About 90 percent of nurses are women, but that number drops to 20 percent when it comes to surgeons. According to a 2014 report by the Association of American Medical Colleges, this holds true in the field of academia as well; among medical schools, surgical departments had the lowest number of full-time women faculty (22 percent).
It's been exactly 100 years since Jeanette Rankin became the first woman elected to Congress, and she was wonderfully correct when she predicted she wouldn't be the last. However, American politics are still bereft of women. In November, the number of women elected to Congress remained exactly the same as the prior election, and earlier this month, the Pew Research Center reported that women remain underrepresented in politics across the nation. This year, they make up about 20 percent of Congress and a quarter of state legislatures.
Put another way, men make up at least three-quarters of American legislatures overall. Meanwhile, women are 51.4 percent of the actual population.
According to the Department of Labor, women comprised 1.7 percent of carpenters in the U.S. in 2014. In fact, they were highly underrepresented in many blue-collar professions, including electricians (2.4 percent) and construction workers (2.5 percent).
As Bloomberg put it in 2014, "women are everywhere in food empires but no head chefs." It's the same story as too many other professions: Women make up the majority of food industry workers, but they're noticeably absent from the positions of prestige. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, just 18.7 percent of head chefs were women in 2013. That's less than the percentage of female chief executives that year.
Speaking of chief executives, the lack of women business leaders is one of the most well-known disparities in the country. According to Catalyst.com, women hold about six percent of CEO positions at companies that made the S&P 500 list in January. That's abysmal. Oh, and research shows that press coverage is harsher on women CEOs than men in the same position when their companies fail.
For whatever reason, firefighting is seen as men's work, and the statistics reflect that. According to the National Fire Protection Association, less than four percent of firefighters were women in 2012 — a drop from 2004, when just over five percent were women. It's an improvement over the '80s and '90s, when women were present in even fewer numbers, but there's clearly still a problem with gender representation.
Women have been involved in aviation since its creation — along with Amelia Earhart, there were female pilots like Willa Brown and Jean Batten — but they're astoundingly underrepresented when it comes to getting paid to fly planes. According to Women in Aviation, only six percent of commercial pilots in the U.S. were women as of December 2015.
The dearth of women in STEM has been covered extensively, but it's worth noting that just 23 percent of computer programmers in the U.S. are female, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Ironically, a 2016 study found that women are actually considered better coders when they hide their gender. Ada Lovelace — the woman who founded modern programming — would be so disappointed.