How Difficult Is It For Women To Make It To The Uppermost Income Brackets?

Ginni Rometty

Surely, all the talk about the gender equality (the glass ceiling, the locked door, and the sticky floor) but it’s terrifying especially when women are only 12% of Forbes’s list of 400 richest people in the United States (and most of them are heiresses).

Also among Fortune 500 companies this year, there are only 24 female CEOs. How difficult is it for women to make it to the uppermost income brackets?

A new report on “Gender Differences among Top Earners, 1981- 2012,” by the economists Fatih Guvenen, Greg Kaplan and Jae Song revealed interesting – if familiar – insights.

From Sheryl Sandberg, Meg Whitman, Indra Nooyi, Mary Barra, and Ginni Rometty —- despite the progress, it sometimes seems like only superwomen break through the glass ceiling.

While females make up about half the working population, their representation in the top 1% still lags way behind that of men, and that’s even more true for the 0.1%.

Ginni Rometty

How unequal is the top 1 percent when it comes to gender?

– In 2012, a worker had to earn at least $1,018,000 to be included in the top 0.1% of the earnings brackets and at least $291,000 to be included in the top 1% earnings brackets.

– For the most recent 5-year period, a worker needed to have average earnings above $918,000 to be included in the top 0.1% earnings brackets, and above $282,000 to be in the top 1% earnings brackets.

The good news: More and more women have made it into the top 1% of American earners.

The bad news: There’s still very few of them in that exclusive club — top 0.1 percent of American earners.

– In the past 30 years, women went from 1.9% of the “Top 0.1 Percent Earners” to 10%.  Among the remaining highest earning females (The Top 1 Percent Earners), women increased their presence from 3.3% to 17%.

– Among the “top 0.1 percent highest earning females”, from 2000 onward, the share of women been stuck at around 10 percent.

The top 0.1 percent highest earning females–  In 1981-85, females constituted just 1.9 percent, by 2008-12 the corresponding shares of females had risen to 10.5 percent and 17.0 percent, respectively.

In 1981-85, there were 50.6 men for every one woman in the top 0.1 percent of earners, whereas in 2008-12 there were 8.5 men for every woman.

Among the top 1 percent of earners, in 1981-85 there were 29.3 men per woman, whereas in 2008-12 there were 4.9 men per woman.

– Now it’s become more likely for women to stay on top 1% or top 0.1% after they make it.

– These days, 31% of  top 0.1 percent of earners come from the finance or insurance sector, though, is not responsible for getting more women into the top 0.1%. Across all sectors, women have been breaking the glass ceiling.

But how general is the phenomenon of females rising to the top?

Dr. Amarendra Bhushan Dhiraj

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CEO and editorial director at CEOWORLD Magazine
Dr. Amarendra Bhushan Dhiraj is the CEO and editorial director of CEOWORLD magazine, the leading global business magazine written strictly for CEOs and forward-thinking high-level executives. He is an extensively kudized author, journalist, and internationally syndicated columnist.
Dr. Amarendra Bhushan Dhiraj

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