Surge in high-earning women


The number of American women on salaries of more than $100,000 a year more than tripled between 1991 and 2001.

The growth in the proportion of women in the highest income bracket was nearly 10 times the rate at which women entered the full-time workforce during the decade.

At the same time the proportion of women in the upper income brackets was increasing, the proportion of women in the lowest income brackets were falling. The proportion of women who earned under $20,000 fell by over one-fifth during the same time.

An analysis of wage and salary data by the Employment Policy Foundation found that 861,000 women earned the equivalent of $100,000 or more in 2001 – the most recent year that data was available - compared with just 242,000 women in 1991.

There was a similar increase in the number of women in the next wage bracket, those earning between $80,000 and $99,999. And almost one in three women who entered the labour force during the 1990s earned more than $60,000.

The figures mean that roughly one in every 48 working full-time earned over $100,000 in 2001 compares to one in every 143 women in 1991.

However far more American men – some 4.3 million - earn above $100,000 while overall, the pay gap in the USA remains significant. Women were paid, on average, about 77 cents for every dollar paid to men in 2002.

Economist Regina Powers, who carried out the research, said that the figures are evidence that women are moving upward in large numbers, earning more than their mother’s generation did.

"As women continue to move into the boardroom and corner offices in increasing numbers, that number will continue to improve," she said.

"I'm not trying to tell you that we've got 50-50" equality with men, but the point is that from '91 to 2001 women made great strides."

"As more women than men continue to graduate from college, the best jobs are more and more frequently going to women," she added. "As those college-educated women climb the corporate ladder, they will continue to push the number of women in the upper income brackets higher.”