The gender pay gap has long been a reality for women in the workforce. According to the American Association of University Women, women with full-time jobs earned 80% of the pay their male counterparts did in 2015. Women face pay gaps in nearly every occupation. 

The Persistence of the Gender Pay Gap

Climbing the ranks of the career ladder may lead to higher salaries for women, but a new analysis suggests that the best-paying jobs continue to go to men. The analysis, conducted by LinkedIn, found that a definite gender bias exists when it comes to who takes home the biggest paychecks in the professional world. (For more, see The Gender Wage Gap: Beware Age 32!

The Highest-Paying Jobs: How Women Fare

The LinkedIn analysis, which used LinkedIn Salary and LinkedIn Jobs data, focused on several markers of how women are represented in the workforce, including their rates of employment in the top 20 best-paying jobs. This table breaks down how each job compares:


As you can see, healthcare is heavily represented, with eight of the top 20 jobs located in the medical field. Most of the remaining jobs encompass some type of executive leadership role.  

Statistically, 47% of medical students and 46% of residents are women, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. In 2015, 48% of medical school graduates were female, up just 1% from 2005. The numbers illustrate that while there’s marked disparity in the hiring of women for top-paying positions, they are roughly keeping pace with men when it comes to enrollment and graduation rates. (For more, see 10 Jobs Where Women Earn More Than Men.)

The differences between men and women are more noticeable among management positions. In 2015, women represented nearly half of the U.S. workforce but just over a third of managers. In 2016, 23% of senior roles were held by women, but 31% of U.S. companies still had no women at the top. Among S&P 500 companies, the number of females in senior roles declines the farther you look up the corporate ladder.

The two fields in which women have the highest share of managerial roles were human resources (HR – a job category traditionally more welcoming to women) and some medical and health services occupations. The data from LinkedIn shows that 68% of HR vice presidents, 66% of HR senior vice presidents and 64% of chief HR officers are women. Meanwhile, 48% of hospitalists (specialized staff doctors in hospitals) and 47% of family physicians are women. 

The number of women in managerial roles is also increasing in other areas, albeit slowly. Between 2011 and 2016, the number of women in senior positions increased by just 3%. Male-dominated fields, however, including healthcare, still employ 25% fewer women than other fields. (For more, see Retirement Planning for Women: Overcoming the Gender Pay Gap.)

Family Matters

One possible explanation for the low number of women in higher-paying roles centers on family. According to data from the Pew Research Center, 42% of women report cutting back on their hours at work to take care of their families, compared to 28% of men. Women were three times as likely to report quitting a job to care for a family member. Having to temporarily sidetrack their careers may make it more difficult for women to move into higher-paying jobs, which may be more demanding time-wise. 

A Catch-22

A lack of women in leadership roles could also be something of a catch-22. When fewer women reach the upper echelons of their respective fields, they have less opportunity to influence company policy, including levels of compensation and encouragement of gender diversification in hiring and promotion.  

The Bottom Line

Women continue to make strides professionally, but, as the data shows, they still have some distance to go to be fully equal with men in terms of representation and compensation in certain occupations. With the gender pay gap not predicted to close until 2152, the challenge remains for women to navigate their way into higher-paying positions in the workplace. 




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