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Male Workers, Female Bosses,and Gender Quotas

Though women have made striking advances in recent decades in higher education, labor market participation, and wages, they remain severely underrepresented in top positions in corporations, governments, and academia. While the “glass ceiling” has cracked, it has nevertheless been left largely intact. For example, women held only 15.2 percent of all Fortune 500 board director positions in 2008, 16.3 percent of seats in the U.S. Congress in 2007, and 20 percent of tenured faculty positions in Ivy League schools in 2003. Moreover, the growth of these numbers has slowed significantly in the last several years, raising concerns about both social equity and economic efficiency (Figure 1). The paucity of women at the top is often explained by the “frozen pipeline” hypothesis that recruiters to managerial levels find a larger pool of skill among men than women. It is also often suggested that women’s sorting into certain kinds of jobs has the effect of sorting them into certain ranks and certain types of firms. Even in the modern world, labor market segmentation clearly remains prevalent.

Eva Meyersson Milgrom
Publication Date
December, 2010