Login or signup
36
WOMEN IN BUSINESS

Recession Closing the Sex Gap in the Workforce?
 

Women are on the brink of surpassing men as the majority of the workforce.
Advertisement

An inadvertent consequence of recessionary cutbacks may be a few more cracks in the glass ceiling for women in the workplace. Because 82 percent of jobs lost thus far in this downturn belonged to men (according to a recent New York Times article), women have inched further to becoming the majority in the labor force.

Women hold 49.1 percent of jobs, according to recent non-farm payroll data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, so if layoffs in male-dominant sectors like construction and manufacturing persist, it seems likely that women – many of whom are employed in more shielded industries such as health care and education – will surpass them.

"It's a paradigm shift," says Mary Murphree, Ph.D., senior adviser at the Sloan Center on Innovative Training and Workforce Development at Rutgers University. The country's capacity to weather the downturn will depend increasingly on these working women, she says. Yet, while this may be a significant – and perhaps celebratory – moment historically, the downturn has made some working women feel more, not less vulnerable.

"While this is kind of a phenomenal moment," says Murphree, "[the downturn] could result in tremendous backsliding for women." Women who are employed may feel anxious requesting maternity leave or extra time for childcare when so many jobs are in jeopardy. And on the employer side, some companies may slash diversity hiring programs that have benefited women in the past.

Last updated: Feb 16, 2009




Register on Inc.com today to get full access to:
All articles  |  Magazine archives | Comment and share features
EMAIL
PASSWORD
EMAIL
FIRST NAME
LAST NAME
EMAIL
PASSWORD

Or sign up using: