March 23, 2011 by Ilene H. Lang
New evidence of the recession’s toll on women has emerged—and it isn’t pretty. The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that of the 1.3 million jobs created in the last 12 months, about 90% have gone to men. This fact—combined with the Catalyst finding that women in senior roles were three times as likely to lose their jobs during the initial months of the recession—shows the true cost of the recent economic downturn. Some “mancession” this turned out to be!
Find out more about the recession’s impact, plus other important news about women and work, in this week’s C This.
Calling it Out
Media attention to the 2010 Catalyst Census: Financial Post 500 Women Senior Officers and Top Earners is still running strong. The Census revealed deep stagnation for women’s advancement in Canada’s top companies. In this article, my colleague Deborah Gillis targeted Canadian businesses for “vastly underutilizing talented women, even though women are the engine of our economies.” She’s speaking truth to power—go Deborah!
Examining the Toll
Not only have men filled 90% of all new jobs in the past year, but women continue to lose jobs at a higher rate than men. Since the official end of the recession in July 2009, men have gained 600,000 jobs while women have lost 300,000 jobs. “I think that the recession has happened in stages,” said Myra Strober, a professor of education and economics at Stanford University. “The first stage hit manufacturing hard, and that’s where men have more jobs than women do, and now the recession has moved to state and local governments where women have a higher percentage of jobs.”
Leading the Way in Israel
Unlike in the US, women hold many of the top posts in Israeli construction, manufacturing and real estate firms. The new Catalyst Census of women’s representation in Tel Aviv 100 Index companies found that the companies Gazit Inc., Ormat Industries, Shikun & Binui, and Delek Drilling each have 50% women executive officers. Companies from other industries should follow their lead. “All studies show gender diversification in management is better for companies,” noted Ofra Strauss, Chairperson of the Strauss Group, upon the Census’ release.
Although women make up roughly half of the American workforce, they hold only 14% of engineering positions and 25% of mathematics positions. Among the most powerful women to bust the myth that women can’t make it in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers is Ursula M. Burns, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Xerox Corporation. Ursula, who will chair the 2011 Catalyst Awards Dinner next week, made Working Mothers’ list of the “Most Powerful Moms in STEM.”
“There are museums in Washington, D.C., for everything from postage stamps to poetry to spies,” said actress Meryl Streep. So why isn’t there a museum to memorialize women’s contribution to America? Streep is the latest celebrity to lend her voice to the creation of a National Women’s History Museum. Supporters seek to raise funds and win Congressional approval to break ground in Washington DC. The museum currently exists only online—for now.