Even when women have the same experience, tenure, and jobs as men, they have a much lower chance of being promoted, according to a new study.
Authors Astrid Kunze and Amalia R. Miller examined private sector employment data from Norway, known as a generally women-friendly country, between 1987 and 1997. They found that even when controlling for industry, occupation, age, education, experience, tenure, and whether workers are full or part time, women are 2.9 percentage points less likely to get a promotion than men. On top of that, they found that â€ś[f]or men, fatherhood is associated with a greater chance of promotion,â€ť but for women, â€śchildren have a negative effect on promotion rates and that effect is even more negative if they are younger.â€ť
Chances of promotion arenâ€™t much better even if women stick it out with one company. Women experience internal promotion rates that are 34 to 47 percent lower than for men. It also doesnâ€™t matter whether theyâ€™re entry-level or at the top of their company: at every level, women are less likely to be promoted to the next rung by the following year.
Given how low their chances are of advancing, it may not be surprising that women are huddled toward the bottom of the hierarchy. The authors found that the lowest rank is over 80 percent female, while men make up more than 90 percent of the employees in the top three highest ranks. This problem is persistent. â€śAcross all years in our data, women are never more than 6 percent of the top three ranks, on average, even as their overall share of the average workplace increases from 25 to 33 percent,â€ť the authors write. Meanwhile, female bosses are rare: more than a quarter of the workers they looked at donâ€™t have any women leaders, while just 1 percent has all female bosses. Here in the U.S., women make up less than 15 percent of executive officers.
The lack of mobility to higher ranking jobs also impacts the gender wage gap. In their data set, women make 76 percent of menâ€™s pay (in the U.S., that ratio is currently a similar 78 percent). But within each job rank, women make between 88 to 98 percent of what men do, and taking job rank into consideration decreases the gap by 59 percent.
Since the data for the study was collected, Norway and some other countries have implemented a gender quotas for women on boards, seeking in part to increase womenâ€™s representation in firms generally by promoting women in leadership. That may be a smart way to address it, as the study found that the more female bosses there are, the more likely it is for women below them to get promoted, while men arenâ€™t impacted. Increasing the share of bosses that are women by .24 percent would decrease the gender gap in promotions by more than 40 percent. This â€śsuggests that one reason for womenâ€™s slow progress to the top of corporate hierarchies is the historical male domination of those ranks,â€ť the authors conclude.
This blog originally appear in thinkprogress.org on December 22, 2014. Reprinted with permission.
About the author: Bryce Covert is the Economic Policy Editor for ThinkProgress. She was previously editor of the Roosevelt Instituteâ€™s Next New Deal blog and a senior communications officer. She is also a contributor for The Nation and was previously a contributor for ForbesWoman. Her writing has appeared on The New York Times, The New York Daily News, The Nation, The Atlantic, The American Prospect, and others. She is also a board member of WAM!NYC, the New York Chapter of Women, Action & the Media.