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Exploring Leadership in the News with Steven Pearlstein and Raju Narisetti

Even in the pink ghetto, women fall behind

Each year, we read scads of articles on the status of women leaders in corporate America. These pieces educate readers about the difficulty women have attaining corporate board-ship, entry to the c-suite, and breaking into typically male roles like "CFO."

We hear about the bright spots too; the appointment of a woman to a high-profile position, an executive who's a top earner in her field, and the overall progress of women's increased representation in the workforce.

That the Fortune 500 has managed to engage only 14 women as CEOs is an exasperating figure. But there's an equally troubling trend in disciplines considered to be female dominated, such as nursing, social work, and the larger nonprofit arena. These "pink ghettos" (as the term was coined in a 1983 study) have historically been characterized by low respect, and even lower pay, despite the fact that service to communities is at their core.

Consider the nonprofit world for example, and you'll find a sector whose composition is nearly two-thirds women. You might be surprised to learn that women represent 60% of this sector's executive directors. But this seeming success may actually obscure, rather than accurately depict, the whole story.

Since women typically run smaller nonprofit organizations than men, both in terms of staff and dollars, men are disproportionately represented at the helm of organizations with budgets greater than $5 million. Women populate the front lines in direct service roles, yet far fewer run the cause-based organizations that get top billing.

In a survey assessing perceptions of executive directors, conducted by CompassPoint Nonprofit Services, one respondent prodded, "So we're putting all the front-end work into building these nonprofits, raising money and building the board, so that men can take them over when they're finally running smoothly?"

A deeper dive into one nonprofit segment in particular, social service, uncovers the level of worth assigned to the work. Recently described by CNN as a "stressful job that pays badly," job prospects for social workers are only expected to increase. I personally began my career in this field years ago and remember the first job offer I received after graduation: "You'll get to head the Advocacy department, manage a team, develop a strategy for expanding services to thousands of new clients, and represent the organization in town halls and briefings to politicians. In exchange, we're prepared to offer you the high side of our range: $30,000 a year."

The famously low pay in this field is often incorrectly perceived as acceptable or unimportant to those who work in it. In fact, in a national study of licensed social workers, 73 percent of women, and 74 percent of men surveyed cited salary as the most important factor that would influence a job change. Where there's anemic pay, there tends to be other negative factors, according to author Beth Shulman. In her book "The Betrayal of Work: How Low-Wage Jobs Fail 30 Million Americans," Shulman reasons, "Inadequate wages are only the beginning. Low-wage jobs also mean few or no benefits, rigid schedules, late-night shifts, unsafe and unhealthy conditions, and lack of respect." What's more, in a field where 81% of workers are women, women are promoted at a slower rate than men with males more often serving in management roles.

Could other factors be hurting women's chances of advancement in these fields? Within nursing, the largest health-care occupation, one perception holds that it's not male nurses that women are competing with for top roles, it's industry outsiders. As the health-care field continues to adopt more of a business-focused delivery model, corporate expats are the ones increasingly tapped for leadership positions. This trend may indeed squeeze women out even more. In addition, the American College of Healthcare Executives found that in the highest tier of healthcare roles, women aren't equally sought after for job openings as compared to their male counterparts. The group's research shows that men are more likely than women to be recruited to the C-suite or VP level.

While equal treatment, self-agency, and empowerment tend to be central to these disciplines, women aren't yet triumphing in them. Each field examined represents an arena where men earn more money than women for equal work, women lag in decision making power and authority, and where being undervalued endures.

It's time for communities of practice in these fields to set a new standard. To start with, organizations must adopt more transparent methods around compensation. While unions can help ensure some fairness in this regard, the onus should not be on their shoulders alone.

Career paths also need to be chiseled out and actively communicated to workers. Succession planning, undertaken by a diverse committee, can also improve matters by honestly exposing the makeup of the leadership pipeline. Certainly grant-makers and funders can play a change-making role by financing programs with adequate pay scales for workers and by drafting criteria that supports organizations with gender-balanced leadership.

Our economy is certainly shaped by high-profile companies like the Fortune 500, but jobs long seen as "women's work" will also play a role in recovery. With more men than women hurt by job loss, women's employment and earnings have more impact than ever, particularly at home. For that reason, wouldn't it be to our collective benefit to see that women have a fair shake at those elusive top jobs and that they get compensated competitively for their work?

By Selena Rezvani

 |  July 23, 2010; 10:57 AM ET
Category:  Women in Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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PPpatriot is a troll who needs a reality check. And will probably "PP" his pants if his wife reads his comment! women were not "happy to stay home" in hi good old days - just like voting till 1920 and owning property and getting a credit card, factory/labor jobs were off-limits to women til WW2. are you kidding me w/the clerical and admin equal hiring? that's like saying males are rep'd highly enough in teaching - b/c they apply in far lower number.

Posted by: sclarke11291 | July 29, 2010 1:20 PM
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The false assumption is that just because women make up fifty percent of the population, it follows they should have a fifty percent representation in upper management. Propaganda of the social engineers. When earning a living was primarily physical labor, ie: logging, mining, steel mills etc., women were perfectly happy to stay home. In fact even today, nearly all labor jobs are (without complaint from the equal pay crowd) filled by men. It's only positions of power, authority, and high pay women whine about lack of equal representation. I also don't see many female executives pushing for equal gender makeup in the vast female dominated office and clerical positions, despite there being plenty of unemployed men who would be glad to take them. Guess it's only called sexism, if you're the under represented and there's no danger you might break a nail.

Posted by: PPpatriot | July 26, 2010 11:58 PM
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The reason why there are not many women CEO's is because many women choose to focus on their families rather than careers. There's nothing wrong with it, it's what makes our future.

Posted by: dudeminds200 | July 26, 2010 9:58 PM
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Really? You're using female domination of the not-for-profit sector, and male disproportionate share of unemployment as a cause for helping women?

Yes, equal opportunity is an unambiguous good, but it has become an intellectual Trojan horse for re-distribution. The strategy is always the same, find a stat you don't like, ignore the rest, demand more from the other side.

Until these arguments because less distributive and more about growing overall societal value, they will fall on increasingly deaf ears.

Posted by: beantown1 | July 26, 2010 8:50 PM
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My mother after receiving her JD and PHD in the 60s and 70s went to work in the law firm in Los Angeles in the mid-1970s. Contrary to all the glamour you here about lawyers make over 6 figures she was placed at the bottom where she literally had to create her own job. This was the Asian-Pacific Rim account where later she made lots of money. The irony is as a female lawyer you have think like a male to get respect from your colleques because most men think women are weak!! At the time my father was a Police Officer and had to give constant mental feedback to my mother because of all the male good-ol-boys network that goes on at a lot firms. Luckily she picked up a lot of pointers from my father and the law firm came to respect my mother.

Posted by: big_bors | July 26, 2010 7:56 PM
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I've spent more than 12 years in the non-profit world and it's been my observation that yes, most of us are female with a few males running the show. 3 non-profits (one in DC, two others in the western half of the country) and 3 horrible male bosses (and equally incompetent upper level male management surrounding those bosses) in a row. Egos galore, poor management as a result. I'm throwing in the towel and saying goodbye forever to any type of "helping" profession. Well, other than I'm a woman and I'm going to "help" myself start my own business and make my own way in the world. Thanks for this piece on the pink ghetto.

Posted by: jjjjjjj | July 26, 2010 7:43 PM
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I would welcome more women in leadership roles as long as they are qualified, not simply because they are women. Promotion should not be based on someone's sex, race, or sexual orientation to achieve some sort of false equivalency, but on a person's merit, skill and achievement.

Posted by: cgindc | July 26, 2010 7:39 PM
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A certain % of females will take extended maternity leave or leave their professions for a period of time (years, in some cases). That's not rare. Some men do too, but that is rare. How do we properly weigh that in deciding how to promote someone?

Posted by: ClarkKent1 | July 26, 2010 5:12 PM
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Oh, and to extend on the post I just made. No, I'm not a sexist like some other posters suggest everyone is who comments negatively on this piece.

I'm 29 and a guy, and I'm actually going to back to school for nursing next year because of how amazing the job looks to me. Great benefits, strong union, good pay and hours. I don't understand at all how the author can dump on nursing. Besides, I'd bet there are more women in medical school now than men.

If you're over 45 or so and commenting in this forum, just be advised that younger people mostly won't be able to relate to your experiences. It's a brave new world for women.

Posted by: platypus_chutney | July 26, 2010 4:05 PM
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The premise of this piece is a red herring. Corporate governance, politics, and math-heavy engineering jobs are basically the only areas where women are behind men. In every other field, women either have parity with men or are surpassing them.

60% of college graduates are now women. The only reason we don't see more women as CEOs even now is that most CEOs are in their 50s and 60s. It's simply a generational lag that will correct itself soon.

If anything, we should be asking how we can get more young men to first, attend college and then, succeed in college.

This reminds me of an article I read in my University paper, which showed a bar chart of the male-female ratio of student majors. Only 1 major had fewer women in it than men - computer science. And the whole article was harping on how terrible it was that there weren't many women in computer science and how can we increase opportunities for women, etc. I was boggled and found myself wondering about all the *other* majors lacking men, to which no attention was given.

Maybe I'm biased because I'm 29, but in my generation women are much more successful than men. The author of this article is probably just older and/or focused on the CEO slice of the pie. Congratulations, she published a book about it. I bet more women publish books now than men do. Anyone know?

Posted by: platypus_chutney | July 26, 2010 4:00 PM
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"Each field examined represents an arena where men earn more money than women for equal work," (Equal Work?)

The illusion that men are paid more strictly on the basis of what they do in the office relative to women, rather than on the basis of their overall social responsibilities, is just that,an illusion.

There is a reason men are and should be paid more, so let me repeat.

Next thing you know the feminist's behind the fair paycheck law, will be demanding mandatory draft registration for all women, no gender discrimination for combat assignments, automatic child custody and support payments for the men, and educating girls that initiation and payment for courtship is their responsibility.

Behaviors collectively known as equal work, for equal pay.

Posted by: PPpatriot | July 26, 2010 2:59 PM
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Great post. Rezvani's micro level suggestions for promoting women's advancement should be paired with stronger enforcement and penalties for sex discrimination in the workplace.

Posted by: Donutango | July 26, 2010 2:43 PM
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Next thing you know the feminist's behind the fair paycheck law, will be demanding mandatory draft registration for all women, no gender discrimination for combat assignments, automatic child custody and support payments for the men, and educating girls that initiation and payment for courtship is their responsibility.

Behaviors collectively known as equal work, for equal pay.

Posted by: PPpatriot | July 26, 2010 2:20 PM
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Here are two cases for comparison.

A woman who strangled her own daughter to death received a suspended sentence of three years. (See Calgary Sun, July 21)

By contrast, a 14 year old boy who helped a three year old girl lost in a mall was charged with kidnapping and arrested.
(http://www.fathersandfamilies.org/?p=8755)

American society is very harsh on men, and this is at least in part a consequence of feminists demonizing men almost continuously for about 40 and American society buying into it.

This is not to deny that some men do act badly. But we have come to the point that women who act badly are not punished, and men who act well are punished.

Posted by: rohit57 | July 26, 2010 1:28 PM
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Women will tolerate low pay. Both men and women in social work will waste their education for near starvation wages for a stupid career choice.
Posted by: alance
===============
Why is helping other people a "stupid career choice"?

And when you are helping other people who are starving, you are not yourself starving, but ARE yourself "making do" with a four year old cellphone, would you not feel ashamed to ask for an iphone?

Posted by: rohit57 | July 26, 2010 12:00 PM
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A typical RN with a two year degree makes more money than an MSW with six years of education. As a society we value health care over helping people with economic, social and mental health problems. Teaching also pays much better than social work.

The outrage of this disparity far exceeds any gender issues. Women will tolerate low pay. Both men and women in social work will waste their education for near starvation wages for a stupid career choice.

Posted by: alance | July 26, 2010 11:41 AM
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Let's address the journalistic prejudice again men in reporting workplace injuries and deaths. What's wrong with this headline: "Fifty Killed in West Virginia Mine Cave-in." What's wrong is that it doesn't admit they were all MEN. When a woman is killed it's worth mentioning. But men are expendable: They are expected to risk injury and death in their jobs, because they're men. Hey wake up, lady. That's sexist. Yes you. Sexist. Pfeh.
Posted by: Religulous
--------------------
Religuous is right, but the indifference to male lives is shared by men, and indeed seems to be higher among men than among women.

It was a man, Lyndon Johnson, who sent several million American men to Vietnam (the alternative was prison or exile). No women were forced to go. And 58,000 men died. Some men did complain that the war was stupid. But hardly any complained that they were victims of a sexist mentality.

Women do demand privileges, and bamboozle men into pretending that female privileges do not exist. But men are colluders in this charade. How many men complain about the fact that fathers are discriminated against right and left in America? Some but not many. And, there is a reason for the discrimination against men.

Traditional societies have prospered by using men to wage war against other societies, and also to defend themselves against other societies. That requires indifference to male lives. Men get to be heroes - dead heroes, all too often.

To slightly alter something said by Stalin. One woman dead is a tragedy. A million men dead are a statistic.

A woman forced to knit a sweater or cook a pie calls herself a slave, and men sympathize with her. A man working in a coal mine is not seen as a slave to his gender defined role.

Can we change this mindset?

Posted by: rohit57 | July 26, 2010 11:04 AM
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Let us see now. Women have a higher life expectancy than men. Indeed black females have a higher life expectancy tha white men. Women are also more likely to go to college, less likely (far less likely) to go to prison and far less likely to be victims of homicide. More than three times as many men as women are victims of homicide in the US.

And yet, women are always whining that they have yet to "catch up."

Why don't men call them on this? Because men like to strut and it feeds to male ego to feel that he is better off than females...

Posted by: rohit57 | July 26, 2010 9:41 AM
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Thanks for this article. Some of the comments and the text of the article reflect that sexism is alive and well. I'm guessing there will be a lot more whining from men who don't like competition from women.

Posted by: lsf07 | July 26, 2010 9:22 AM
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Here's this unreconstructed sexist Rezvani again, seeing the world thru her feminist lenses. Newsflash: women choose self-gratifying jobs with high safety, and get more money from their sex relationships than men do. Here's some more news, Femi-Commissar Rezvani: a "job change" is not the same as a "career change." Do you find some illusory significance in your spurious femi-statistic? ". . .of licensed social workers, 73 percent of women . . . cited salary as the most important factor that would influence a job change." No durr, lady. Everyone would change JOBS for more money. But how many women would go change CAREERS and go work in a dark, smelly, highly dangerous COAL MINE for a ten percent raise? How many women would sign up as Ice Road Truckers or freeze their faces off for The Deadliest Catch? ZERO. Wake up, Madam Feminazi, and smell the stink of sexist, privileged status that women hold in this Femi-Talibanic country.

Let's address the journalistic prejudice again men in reporting workplace injuries and deaths. What's wrong with this headline: "Fifty Killed in West Virginia Mine Cave-in." What's wrong is that it doesn't admit they were all MEN. When a woman is killed it's worth mentioning. But men are expendable: They are expected to risk injury and death in their jobs, because they're men. Hey wake up, lady. That's sexist. Yes you. Sexist. Pfeh.

Posted by: Religulous | July 26, 2010 9:20 AM
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You say, "Since women typically run smaller nonprofit organizations than men, both in terms of staff and dollars, men are disproportionately represented at the helm of organizations with budgets greater than $5 million. Women populate the front lines in direct service roles, yet far fewer run the cause-based organizations that get top billing."

So you want MORE women to be like the CEOs who recently robbed us all and created the financial crisis? And why?

Women care more about service to others. Men care more about money so they can attract a pretty, greedy wife. This is the way the world has been for a long time. Men express their greed on the market, women express it when they are choosing a husband.

The wife of a rich man is envied. But a man who lives off a rich wife is despised. And that is a big difference in motivation.

Did you know that Gandhi and Wittgenstein gave away all their wealth? They are my heroes, and different from yours. You obviously admire those who turn service into a way to wealth.


Posted by: rohit57 | July 26, 2010 9:17 AM
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The makeup of the workforce is not the only consideration for nonprofits. Since boys are expected to attend school, some men must be in administrative positions, even if their number in the educational workforce is much less than that of women.

Maybe the donors are the problem, preferring to give money to organizations headed by men. The government could address this by making tax-qualified organizations adhere to fairness guidelines. No fairness, no tax deduction for the donor. Nonprofits would scramble to make certain they hire, promote, and pay fairly so that the donations would not dry up. As always, religious organizations would be exempt, however. As an alternative, perhaps it's time for non-profit-worker unions, or for female customers of nonprofits to make other choices whenever possible.

$45,000 is not high pay these days, by the way. I think you would have to go back about 25 years for that to be true, and remember that the lesser earning of two spouses pays the other spouse's marginal tax rate on each dollar earned that is not sheltered by something like a 401(k), so that person's take home pay may be considerably less than that of a single person making the same amount.

Posted by: CMNC | July 24, 2010 12:01 AM
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Too overgeneralize, if I may, men just make more money cuz men make more money, cuz men pay men more money, and men take more money when they can. The end.

Women still make on average the seventy some cents on the dollar that men do, as was the case 30 years ago.

It's just the way it is an unlikely to change.

Posted by: quiet1 | July 23, 2010 6:37 PM
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big problem in libraries as well.

Posted by: librariansgonewild | July 23, 2010 3:55 PM
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The author is so absorbed by her own self-egotism, that she can't see the forest for the trees.

Here's a free lesson:

Firstly nurses are anything but low paying: Typical salaries for an RN is $45,000/yr. If you get an advanced degree you can make $100,000/yr

Nonprofit directors/Presidents/CEO's, depending on the size can make just as much as their counter parts in the private sector. The former head of NOW made over $400,000/yr. As a non-profit organization, you can pretty much set your own salary (if you don't have a board).

Social Work? Social Worker supervisors make around $40,000/yr. The upper management of many city/county, state and Federal Social Work agencies make around $70,000/yr or more. The Directors all make $100,000 or more.

As far as a "pink ghetto". I don't care when it was coined, the term is not used and probably not known to most Americans.

Here's hint, Know your audience.

End of lesson.

Posted by: wlockhar | July 23, 2010 3:12 PM
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nice to see this takeout on the pink collar ghettoes - I would include education and much of journalism.
please keep at this topic. the few women in the top of the Obama admin is troubling - they are photographed day after day with all men, or all men and their token, V.J.
sends the wrong signal, totally.

Posted by: FloridaChick | July 23, 2010 1:52 PM
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