Today I am going to write on a topic of importance to women and the world. In my research, most data I turn up indicate an imbalance between education and employment for women. We have all read stories of equal gender pay. That’s the “80 cents” women are paid “on the dollar” men receive for equivalent work story. Then there’s research out by groups such as Catalyst which shows 35% of all management positions in S&P 500 companies are held by women. It’s the same old employment story, right?
The imbalance is created when you consider education. It’s when you objectively look at the other side of the educated workforce scale that weights are unequal. You soon realize that more women are educated than men. And, as the disparity between college-educated women and non-college-educated men continues to grow, the scales are tipping even further out of balance.
The view I would encourage readers to take here is one that’s grounded in American meritocracy. Where imbalances are created when one group, in this case women, should earn more representation because of their accomplishments.
It is encouraging to see that women have achieved the goal of education, which occurred when more women were being educated than men. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are now three women for every two men who graduate college with 4-year degrees. This means there are 278,000 more women out there who graduate college every year, which, during a 4-year cycle of college students (a.k.a., an intake or cohort), is over 1.1 million more women than men.
A meritocratist, or any performance-driven organization (especially those hiring knowledge workers), would likely ask, “How can 58% of all college graduates, who are women, receive 20% less pay? Or, for that matter, hold just 35% of jobs in management?” One can scarcely imagine what would happen if the gender was reversed.
Imbalances such as these cause head-scratching moments, leading some women to wonder if education really pays. Shouldn’t education, as I write in my book Careerismo, be a leading indicator of future economic success for women?
Well, on International Women’s Day, there is pause to celebrate because it has finally happened. For the first time ever, women have achieved a balance of sorts between education and employment. It came in the form of President Trump’s State of the Union Address when he said, “Women have filled 58% of the new jobs created in the last year.”
For a moment there was, what appeared to be, balance in the workforce. Although it’s anecdotal, the 58% placement rate of women working in new jobs equals 58% of the total college graduates who are women.
I realize it might be a stretch, which uses questionable assumptions and a strain of research that’s looking for answers. More importantly, I know it’s only a start. However, all of us should also see at it as positive sign. A sign of hope and of more good things to come. Our most historic movements, which led us to economic freedom and greater prosperity, were started on much less. In the digital world in which we work and live, a data point like this might just change the course of history.