A new study said the number of women with salaries of $100,000 a year or better more than tripled during the past decade, the Boston Globe reported. In 2001, 861,000 women earned $100,000 or more, compared with just 242,000 women in 1991, according to federal wage and salary data analyzed by the Employment Policy Foundation, a Washington research organization funded by business and foundations.
That was a whopping 256% hike for top female earners during the 1990s economic boom, with a like increase seen in the number of women in the $80,000 and $99,999 wage bracket.
There may have been advances, but there are still inequities. Far more working men — 4.3 million — still earn above $100,000. And the gender wage gap persists. Women were paid, on average, about $0.77 for every $1 paid to men in 2002, the Globe reported.
But foundation economist Regina Powers, who conducted the wage research on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, said the numbers provide ”solid evidence” that women are making inroads into the upper echelon, because of a combination of more education and greater opportunity.
The study also shows that the number of low-paid women shrank during the decade as a proportion of all working women. While there are 28% more women working today than in 1991, their numbers in one low-wage category – those earning $20,000 to $39,999 – rose by just 23%.
Women are making more money for several reasons, Paul Harrington, an economist with the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, told the Globe.They are becoming more educated, working longer hours, and moving into well-paying fields, whether finance or biotechnology, once dominated by men, the Globe said.