Following is an excerpt from "WOMEN LEAD - Career Perspectives from Workplace Leaders", Edited by Tracey Wilen-Daugenti, Courtney L. Vien, and Caroline Molina-Ray
Navigating a Changing Workforce in the Woman’s Century
Will the 21st century be the century of the woman? Consider these statistics:
- Women make up half the US workforce and hold 51.4% of all managerial and professional jobs and almost half of all banking and insurance jobs.
- A woman starts a business every 60 seconds.
- Forty-one percent of women in dual-earner households earn as much or more than their husbands or partners.
- Fifty-seven percent of college students are now female. Women outpace men in earning master’s and doctoral degrees, and comprise 49% of medical students and 48% of law school graduates.
- Companies with more women in leadership positions see higher profits, stock price growth, return to shareholders, and returns on equity, sales, and invested capital than companies with few women executives.
- Studies show that female business leaders outperform men on a wide variety of leadership traits, including adaptability, innovation, people skills, and strategic drive.
- Eighty-nine percent of Americans are comfortable with women as leaders, compared to 77% in 2002.
- The percentage of women ages 25–34 with a bachelor’s degree has more than tripled since 1986, while the share of men in that cohort with a bachelor’s degree has grown by only half.
- In 2008, women in dual-earner couples contributed 45% of annual family income—39% more than they did in 1997.
- Between 1997 and 2011, the number of woman-owned businesses increased by 50%: 1.5 times the growth rate of businesses as a whole.
- If US women-owned businesses were their own country, it would have the fifth-largest GDP in the world, ahead of France, the United Kingdom, and Italy.
Compare those facts to the status of women just a few decades ago—when women comprised only a third of the workforce14 and just 11% of working women had graduated from college15—and it’s not hard to see why the rise of women has brought sweeping changes to the workplace and the economy.
In fact, some theorists claim that the technological and demographic shifts of the past 20 years have created an economy highly congenial to women. As the United States transitions from an industrial, goods-producing economy to an information-based service economy, fewer jobs will be dependent on manual labor, making physical strength far less of an asset. Instead, employees will be valued for their intellect, education, interpersonal skills, and capacity for lifelong learning—characteristics women possess in abundance. Women’s greater educational achievements, coupled with their propensity for teamwork and communication, will likely prime them for success in the emerging workforce, where most stable, well-paying jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree. Likewise, as technological advancements enable workplace cultures to become less hierarchical and more democratic and participative, the transformational and collaborative style of leadership practiced by many women will become increasingly relevant.
Demographics, too, are on women’s side. As Baby Boomers retire, they’re being replaced by Generation Xers and Millennials, cohorts that have never thought it unusual for women to go to college or work outside the home. These younger workers will have inherited fewer biases about women’s leadership potential. At the same time, companies are increasingly recognizing the value of gender and ethnic diversity, which has been shown to increase innovation while reflecting a more heterogeneous customer base, and many are actively seeking to increase women’s participation at all levels.
Dr. Tracey Wilen is a prominent thought leader on the impact of technology on society, work and careers. She’s been a scholar at Stanford University and has held leadership positions at Apple, HP, Cisco, and the Apollo Group. Dr. Wilen has authored 11 books. Her new book Employed for Life , 21st Century career trends was just released.
She has appeared on CNN, Fox and CBS news, in The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today. She frequently contributes to The Huffington Post, the Examiner, and the Christian Science Monitor and is on radio shows across the US weekly as an expert guest. She is a global speaker on the impact of technology on work, careers, and women’s leadership. She was honored by the San Francisco Business Times as a 2012 Most Influential Woman in Bay Area Business. www.traceywilen.com, @traceywilen
Dr. Wilen is on a corporate speaking tour on the topic of 21st Century Careers and can be reached traceywilen.com, @traceywilen or FB Dr.TraceyWilen