Forbes recently analyzed data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in order to determine the best-paying jobs for women. They modeled the BLS data to take into account median weekly earnings, percentage of women in the field, and gender pay gap in the field. I’d like to know how they weighted each of these components, but they seem to have the right idea.
Pharmacists top their list, earning $1,871 a week or roughly $98,000 a year. Jobs in health also topped this list with nurse practioners, occupational therapists, and medical and health services managers. As they note, health care is a fast-growing employment sector in the U.S. and it has the bonus of mostly not being an opportunity for outsourcing, but in the highest paying position of physicians and surgeons, women make up only 35% of the labor force and the pay gap between women and men is 68%.
In technology fields, women tend to be underrepresented, but those who are there do tend to have higher median earnings and the wage gap is low. On the list is also computer and information systems managers earning $1,527 a week, software developers earnings $1,362 a week, computer systems analysts earning $1,254 a week and computer programmers earning $1,148 a week.
They also list some of the worst positions for women, which include food preparation, laundry and dry cleaning, childcare and maids and housekeepers. And let’s remember that these jobs are also commonly women’s work, meaning a high proportion of the workers in these jobs are women.
By the time most of us are reading articles on Forbes about best-paying jobs for women, it might be too late for us to change our life direction (but not impossible, for sure, go follow your dreams!), but it’s still interesting to note which jobs those are that pay well or don’t pay so well so we can get a better understanding of the economic conditions facing women workers. As expected, those requiring highly specialized skills and that are in high demand are decent jobs for women. Women have worked in health fields in one way or another for some time, most commonly as nurses, so their historical (and thus culturally acceptable) presence combined with current demand for healthcare services has led to some good economic conditions for women working there, with the exception of the highest paying positions of doctors and surgeons. Technology fields might be doing well because it’s labor market that expanded so rapidly within the last twenty years or so, so there is high demand compared to supply of qualified workers, leading to a lower gender wage gap. Those jobs that aren’t doing so well are traditionally associated with women and regarded as unskilled since they do not require formal skill development like education and long training periods. Overall, it reminds us that there are some good opportunities out there for women, but the fact that we even need to discuss which jobs are the best-paying for specifically women reminds us that there are still barriers, either because of the structure of the economy or society.