Washington, D.C., March 24, 2016 – Women hold only a third of positions in growing middle-skill jobs that pay at least $35,000 or as much as $102,000 per year, according to a new report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR). These middle-skill jobs, which require a high school education but not a college degree, pay a living wage and can serve as a stepping stone to a higher-paying career for women workers, who now serve as the sole or co-breadwinner in half of American families.
The report, supported by JPMorgan Chase as part of its $250 million, five-year New Skills at Work initiative, analyzes jobs in the key growth sectors of manufacturing; information technology; and transportation, distribution and logistics (TDL), and compares the skills required for various lower-paid, female-dominated jobs to those required for higher-paying, male-dominated occupations. As companies throughout the United States face a skills shortage, the report identifies potential “on-ramp” occupations for women that will enable them to develop their existing skills to move into jobs in these growing sectors.
“Progress on closing the gender wage gap has slowed to a halt in the last decade. At the same time, employers are facing a shortage in workers who can fill these fast growing jobs in middle-skill sectors. Integrating these occupations is a win-win-win for women, employers and the economy as a whole.”Ariane Hegewisch, IWPR Program Director for Employment & Earnings and lead author of the study
Women’s earnings are essential to family economic security and broader economic growth, yet women still face a persistent gender wage gap, over half of which is due to occupational and industry segregation, where lower-paid jobs are typically held by women and higher-paying jobs are typically held by men. Women are also more likely than men to have completed high school, have some post-secondary college qualifications and have a 2- or 4-year degree. This highlights that not only are women lacking opportunities to build careers that can support their families, but American companies may be missing out on a skilled, educated workforce that can drive economic success.
“With some of the most important sectors in the U.S. economy lacking enough skilled workers to meet demand, there is an opportunity for women to obtain roles that have traditionally been held by men. Increasing access to new kinds of skills training for women would go a long way in tackling their underrepresentation in good manufacturing, IT and transportation jobs.”Chauncy Lennon, Head of Workforce Initiatives, JPMorgan Chase
The report finds a startling lack of women in higher-paying middle-skill occupations in each key growth sector:
- In manufacturing, there will be 533,000 good jobs available over the next decade. Currently, only 7 percent of workers in these jobs are women.
- In information technology, there will be 240,000 good jobs available over the next decade. Currently only 29 percent of workers in these jobs are women.
- In transportation, distribution, and logistics, there will be 1.3 million good jobs available over the next decade. Currently, only 9 percent of workers in these jobs are women.
Using an innovative analysis of government occupational data, the report seeks to identify potential talent pipelines to help women move into these good jobs. IWPR researchers compared over 252 job characteristics—including training requirements, on-the-job tasks, and the attitudes, experiences and attributes of workers— to identify middle-skill, female-dominated occupations that can serve as “on-ramps” to male-dominated target jobs facing skills shortages. The analysis revealed:
- Many women work in jobs that already have a similar skill profile to better-paying, male-dominated jobs. In fact, if 10 percent of women workers entered similar but higher-paying male-dominated jobs, the median earnings for these women would increase by over 50 percent, and for all women workers by 5 percent.
- Female packaging and filling machine operators could increase their earnings by over 50 percent by becoming welders. Women make up 56 percent of packaging and filling machine operators. Similar to welders, the job requires arm-hand steadiness, manual dexterity and control precision. With additional certified training, these women could have success in this higher-paying career path. Median annual earnings for welders are $38,762, which is 50 percent higher than the $25,851 per-year earnings for packaging and filling machine operators.
- Library assistants—8 in 10 of whom are women—get paid almost $24,000 less per year than IT support specialists, nearly 3 in 4 of whom are men. Based on the analysis, these two occupations share many similar characteristics, and with some additional training and education, library assistants could become IT support specialists, improving their own earnings and filling growing demand for IT workers.
The report concludes with recommendations for employers, policymakers and workforce developers to create more gender-inclusive environments that successfully retain female talent. IWPR also launched an accompanying interactive website, womenandgoodjobs.org, which provides a searchable database of middle-skills jobs, allowing users to see the relationship between lower and higher-paid middle-skill occupations and identify opportunities for “on-ramping” women workers into better jobs.
About The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR)
The Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies.
About JPMorgan Chase & Co.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.4 trillion and operations worldwide. The Firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing, and asset management. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of consumers in the United States and many of the world's most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at www.JPMorganChase.com.