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Women breaking through

WASHINGTON/(PRNewswire via COMTEX) -- Women are entering male-dominated fields at increasing rates and for those who are, the payoff is big -- those women now earn the same or more than their male counterparts, according to a new analysis released today from the Employment Policy Foundation.

The top ten occupations where women's participation has increased most in the past decade are: veterinarians (female vets have increased from less than 2 percent to 43 percent); top public administrators (37 percent are now women, compared to 4 percent in 1989); math & science teachers (increased 6-fold), chemistry teachers (increased 4-fold); industrial engineers (22 percent are now women, compared to 6 percent in 1989); dentists (increased 4-fold); car salespeople (increased 3-fold); messengers (increased 3-fold); physicians assistants (increased from 20 percent to 58 percent); and members of the clergy (6 percent of clergy members were women in 1989 compared to 18 percent today). Of the 497 occupations tracked by the government, women have increased their representation in 106 job categories.

Women aged 25 to 35 in those occupations with the largest increase in numbers of women who work full-time earned the same as men in those fields, regardless of motherhood status, hours worked or other factors, the analysis of 2000 Bureau of Labor Statistics data found. In fact, women actually earned slightly more than men in the same field of the same age bracket, but the difference is not statistically significant.

Pooling those top ten occupations, EPF found that women earn an average of $823 per week, while their male equivalents earned $813 per week -- in other words, these women earn 101 percent of what men in their field do. Looking at older age groups, women age 35-44 earned 80 percent of what men did, and women age 45-54 earn 75 percent less than men -- however, this difference can be explained in the number of hours that women work per week. Women in these fields work, on average, 5 hours less compared to their men colleagues. Therefore, when earnings are compared on an hourly basis, women in these fields -- no matter their age -- earn exactly the same as their male equivalents.

In some other traditionally-male fields, such as accounting, financial managers, economists, actuaries and editors and reporters, women now outnumber men compared to a decade ago, according to the analysis. Women now account for 46 percent of the total U.S. workforce, and may outnumber men by the year 2025, according to EPF's projections.

"Women are clearly making great strides in the workplace," said DJ Nordquist, EPF vice president. "Women are consciously deciding to go into fields traditionally dominated by men and they are proving that their work contributions are just as valuable -- as can be evidenced by equal paychecks. Any type of pay disparity in these groups can be accounted for simply by the hours of work women put in compared to men, which may be attributable to non-work commitments, such as family," she added.

"Overall, the news for working women is good. Biology is not and should not be a factor in occupational choice," she concluded.

The Employment Policy Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan economic research and educational foundation that focuses on workplace trends and policies.

(c) 2001 PR Newswire

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