Though professional women have certainly made strides since the Don Draper–era male domination of the workplace, females still earn just 81 percent of men. This figure from a 2010 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, shows that women need to work harder to pull even with males. Thus, it's crucial that women entering the work force—or who seek greater job satisfaction—choose career paths carefully. Here's a list of the top industries for women now.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women will make significant strides in the work force by 2014; the agency's recent report stated: "The male labor force is projected to grow by 9.1 percent from 2004 to 2014, compared with 10.9 percent for women." One industry that is already heavily dominated by women is health care. The percentage of women in this field is 78 percent; womens' average annual earnings are $32,149; and the job growth projected by 2014 is 27.3 percent.
Women tend to dominate in the employment-services sector, which includes staffing services and recruitment positions as well as in-house human-resources professionals. Generally speaking, women are better at listening to and empathizing with others, both skills are a huge part of this industry. The percentage of women in the employment-services sector is 57.4 percent; their average earnings are $21,320; and growth of employment for women in this field is expect to jump a whopping 45.5 percent by 2014. This is a great industry for women seeking job security.
The educational-services field is very female-friendly, and includes positions such as teachers and tutors and school administrators. Teaching children has always been a popular job for professional women in America, but now female domination of the sector has gone up through college professorship and beyond. The educational-services industry is comprised of an impressive 69 percent women; their average female employee's earnings are $36,370; and the growth of women employed in this field by 2014 is projected to rise by 16.6 percent.
The careers that make up the social-assistance field are wide and varied (the figures here exclude child day-care workers), but all involve helping people in need. The job options include such wide-ranging options as government-employed social workers, behavioral-health counselors at residential treatment facilities for the mentally ill or substance-addicted, and social-security-benefit case managers. The percentage of women in this field is an impressive 73.8 percent; the annual average earnings for women is $22,979; and the projected growth for women in this sector is 32.6 percent by 2014.
Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing
With huge advances taking place in the pharmaceutical industry almost daily, there is a growing need for talented individuals to work in this lucrative field. Many more women are studying science and chemistry in college, and are primed to take over this field that was once highly male-dominated. The percentage of women in the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing field is 46.3 percent; women's average earnings are $44,420; and the expected increase of females in the industry is a significant 26.1 percent by 2014.
Advertising and Public Relations
The fictional character of Peggy Olson of "Mad Men" was definitely spot-on. Women have an intuitive sense of what type of message sells products—especially to other women—and they also tend to be good at helping to creatively devise and promote brands, products and destinations. Women make up 52.3 percent of the workers in the advertising and public-relations industry; their average yearly earnings are $38,370; and the projected increase of females in this field is 22.4 percent by 2014. For creative thinkers, this is a terrific field.
Typically, people don't like to think too much about insurance. It brings up thoughts of crises, death, and financial insecurity. Perhaps unsurprisingly, women are surpassing men in this field, likely because they can sell insurance to clients by using empathy rather than scare tactics. The percentage of women in the insurance industry is 60.9 percent; women's average annual earnings are $38,590; and their growth within the business is projected to reach 9.5 percent by 2014.
Advocacy, Grantmaking and Civic Organizations
This is a class of occupations, especially, where women have made huge strides. It was not so many years ago when advocacy and civic work was almost entirely male-dominated. Again, it perhaps is due to women's ability to listen to and understand multiple viewpoints that has engendered their success in these fields. The percentage of women working in advocacy and civic organizations is 66.9 percent; the median annual earnings are $28,007; and the growth projection of females in the field, by 2014, is expected to reach 14.5 percent.
Laura Vogel has worked in professional publishing since 1994. She has served as a writer for Zagat, copy chief of "ELLE," assistant managing editor of "Us Weekly" and features editor for the "Pulse" section of "The New York Post." Vogel has a B.A. in media studies from Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass.