Women at Work: A Progress Report

Source: W. Michael Cox and Richard Alm, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Economic Letter, Vol. 2 no. 5, May 2007

Recent decades have seen a revolution in women’s work, marked by gains in labor force participation, college study, occupations and entrepreneurship. A commitment to education and work suggests U.S. women will continue to fare better at work, but it’s hard to imagine they’ll match recent decades’ rate of progress.

The growth of their labor force participation has leveled off in recent years, suggesting the surge of women into the job market has run its course. Women’s share of business ownership has risen only modestly. With a large portion of today’s women already seeking higher education, further increases in the share of college graduates will come only slowly. Women approach or have achieved parity in many professions.

The past 50 years’ experience suggests, however, that U.S. women will respond to incentives and opportunities. They’ve shown a desire to channel their efforts into sectors and occupations that are likely to grow. It’s a good formula for further progress in the workplace.

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