Women now hold 52 percent of management, professional, and related positions, according to a new report from BMO Bank.
The firm cites recent data from Catalyst, a nonprofit organization devoted to expanding opportunities for women and business
However, the same data also show that the glass ceiling remains very real: Less than 5 percent of women occupy CEO roles at S&P 500 companies.
Women still make 78 percent of what men make on average, and women aged 25 to 34 earn 93 cents for every dollar that a man earns despite being on average more qualified.
"Progress is a double-edged sword, complicated by the pressure many women feel to take care of loved ones, sometimes at their own personal and financial expense," the report says. "It seems that financial and career success comes at a price for women and there is still more work to be done to truly level the playing field. For many women, taking care of others is a personal expectation, despite its high cost. However, loss of financial independence is a significant concern."
BMO goes on to note that women are now the primary breadwinners in more than 40% of U.S. households, a nearly four-fold increase from 1960. Women also own 30 percent of all private businesses in the United States, employing over 7.8 million Americans, and controlling 51% of total U.S. wealth, equivalent to $14 trillion.
But, they also cite a study that says women who earn more than their male partners are more likely to get divorced.
"Of all of the money-based fears, the thought of running out of money in old age is the greatest concern of many affluent and successful women," the report says. "This is compounded by the worry of not having anyone to turn to for support. Most of these worries are due to insecurity about long term financial prospects, having spent so much time and energy on day-to-day family concerns."
U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) recently re-introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would require employers to show pay disparity is truly related to job-performance, not gender, and prohibit employer retaliation for sharing salary information with coworkers.
“Equal pay is not just for our pocketbooks, it’s about family checkbooks and getting it right in the law books," Mikulski said in a statement. "The Paycheck Fairness Act ensures that women will no longer be fighting on their own for equal pay for equal work.”
However, Harvard professor Claudia Goldin, who last year published a landmark study on closing the gender-pay gap, told Fusion in an email she doesn't believe government intervention will work and referred us to her paper, which says firms themselves must change how jobs are structured and remunerated so that individuals who work long hours, or particular hours, are not disproportionately rewarded.
"The gap exists because hours of work in many occupations are worth more when given at particular moments and when the hours are more continuous," she writes. "That is, in many occupations earnings have a nonlinear relationship with respect to hours. A flexible schedule often comes at a high price, particularly in the corporate, financial, and legal worlds."
Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.