These Industries Promote the Most (and Fewest) Women to Management

Women may hold 52 percent of all professional jobs in the United States, but they still only make up 39 percent of America’s managers. And that statistic includes middle management. When you go higher up the corporate ladder, you find fewer and fewer women.

“I hear from women quite a bit that are concerned about sexual harassment, equal pay, bullying and harassment, and equality in promotional and advancement processes,” says Valerie Martinelli, an HR consultant. “Women just don’t know if they are getting a fair shake in the workplace, or will ever have the opportunity to thrive in an equal corporate culture.”

So if you’re a woman with senior management as a career goal, it’s helpful to look at which industries promote the most women to the top rungs - and which ones don’t. (HINT: The ones with the most female senior managers often have the most female employees overall.)

Globally, the top industries that promote the highest percentage of women to senior management are tied, starting with education and social services. Women make up 75 percent of all education employees worldwide, and 41 percent of managers. In the United States alone, 97.5 percent of preschool and kindergarten teachers are women.

Women hold that same percentage of senior management positions in the global health care industry.

“Women are at the core of health care decisions even in a family setup,” writes Fonthip Ward of Women’s Network Australia, an organization that empowers women. “As medical professionals, women bring empathy as well as improved communication skills. This is one of the industries where women can lead naturally.”

Hospitality (33 percent), food and beverage (27 percent), and financial services (25 percent) follow.

These Industries Promote the Most (and Fewest) Women to Management 1

Industries with 25 percent or fewer female workers are considered male-dominated, according to Catalyst , a nonprofit that aims to accelerate progress for women by fostering inclusive workplaces. So it’s perhaps unsurprising that mining - in which women hold just 13.4 percent of jobs in the United States - has the lowest percentage of female managers worldwide, at only 12percent.

Mining is followed by construction and real estate at 18 percent. Transportation, manufacturing, and yes, technology, are all tied for third-worst.

“The technology sector has been harshly criticised for its predominantly male workforce over the years,” writes data journalist Niall McCarthy.

Women hold just 19 percent of senior management positions in all three of these industries.

No matter which industry you want to work in, you should definitely research a prospective employer’s commitment to diversity, says Tracy Miller, a lecturer at MBA@Dayton, the one-year online MBA program from Dayton University.

“You want to enter an environment where you know that diversity is supported and is nurtured, and there are opportunities regardless of your gender or your race,” Miller says. “So look at top management, look at whether women are represented in the upper echelons … your board of directors - and you can look at mid-level management.”

One additional benefit of working in an industry with a lot of women: You can work together to achieve parity in the workplace.

“We need more women to move from mid-level management to executive level,” says Martinelli. How can you make that happen?

“Promote each other,” she says. “If women want more ethical business practices and corporate cultures to become a reality, then we need each other to reach goals. It hasn’t happened with men in charge.”

Melissa Thompson
Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn't know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.