skip to content
Primary navigation

Peering Into the Glass Ceiling

by Amanda Rohrer
December 2017

PDF of article

Women are less likely than men to be top wage earners in their fields in Minnesota, even in industries where women generally do well.

We know that women earn less than men in Minnesota and nationally. But how does this play out at the very top of organizations? Can women break through the glass ceiling to take the highest-paying jobs in Minnesota?

This analysis looks for outlier earners by industry in Minnesota to identify if women can make it to top earner status within their chosen field. To answer the question, the analysis uses newly available data from DEED and the Department of Public Safety. They are sharing some limited data, allowing the matching of age and gender from driver’s license records with records of hours, earnings and industry from wage records as reported to the Unemployment Insurance Program.

Findings

Men are disproportionately likely to be outlier earners in the majority of industries in Minnesota, and they tend to earn more as outliers than women (see Chart 1). The handful of industries where women are disproportionately likely to be outliers have both lower wages overall and outliers with much lower wages than in industries where males dominate as outliers. The charts below that represent expected performance (a similar number of male and female outliers), and majority women outliers have observations clustered around $20 per hour. The majority men chart, however, has industries with the outlier wage up to $72 per hour.

Chart 1. Outlier Earners by Industry and Gender - Industries With similar Numbers of Male and Female Outliers

 

Chart 1 Outlier Earners by Industry and Gender- Industries Where the Majority of Outliers are Men

Chart 1 Outlier Earners by Industry and Gender- Industries Where the Majority of Outliers are Women


Results for specific industries bolster this finding (see Table 1). The overall median wage of industries with expected performance (similar numbers of male and female outliers) is $13.77 per hour. In those industries, men earn a median of $14.97 per hour to women’s $13.25 per hour.

 

Table 1. Outlier Earners

blank

Industries with
Expected Performance

Industries where
Women Surpass Men

Industries where
Men Surpass Women

Median Wage

$13.77

$11.00

$21.25

Median Wage for Women

$13.25

$11.02

$20.03

Median Wage for Men

$14.97

$11.10

$23.31

Number of Workers

Total

681,750

257,131

2,348,131

Source: DEED Unemployment Insurance data, DPS driver’s license data

 

In industries where women surpass men as outlier earners, the overall median wage is only $11 per hour, and the gap between the median for women ($11.02 per hour) and the median for men ($11.10 per hour) is much smaller. 1

In industries where men surpass women as outlier earners, the median wage overall is $21.25 per hour, or nearly double the wage for industries where women do disproportionally well as outliers. The gender gap here is greater, too – women earn $20.03 per hour compared with $23.31 per hour for men.

Most Minnesotans (71 percent) are employed in industries where men surpass women as outlier earners. Only 7.8 percent of workers are employed in industries where women surpass men as outlier earners.

In Table 2, the top 10 industries by total employment are shown. Highlighted industries are ones where female outliers outnumber male outliers. Across categories, men make up more than half of outlier earners. This means that even when women make up the majority of employment in an industry, men are disproportionately likely to be appointed to top positions. These industries include educational services, ambulatory health care services, hospitals and accommodation.

Health care and teaching are traditional pink-collar job powerhouses that pay well, but the data suggest that the administrators who manage them and the top doctors are still male-dominated. Furthermore, typically male outliers earn more than female outliers. This is particularly true in health care fields. The median hourly wage for male outlier earners is $110.07 to women’s $65.75 in ambulatory health care services and $96.77 for men to $65.56 for women in hospitals.

 

Table 2. Top Industries by Employment and Outlier Performance

blank blank

Outlier Earners

Employment

Female

Median Wage Female

Male

Median Wage Male

Industries With Similar Numbers of Men and Women

Nursing and Care Facilities

91,158

16,258

$29.97

3,861

$30.54

Social Assistance

78,475

14,058

$23.89

4,179

$25.10

Admin. and Support Services

68,933

12,913

$33.96

18,402

$33.91

General Merchandise Stores

39,235

6,050

$20.50

4,490

$21.12

Amusement, Gambling and Recreation

20,778

3,660

$26.16

3,483

$27.50

Merchant Wholesalers, Non-Durable Goods

16,007

2,675

$63.37

5,784

$67.02

Construction of Buildings

4,228

417

$62.40

2,460

$60.10

Private Households

3,491

479

$26.50

86

$29.98

Warehousing and Storage

2,162

325

$62.39

653

$57.13

Non-Metallic Mineral Product Manufacturing

1,640

244

$40.29

1,267

$39.90

Industries With More Men than Women

Educational Services

179,195

24,182

$68.77

14,241

$69.60

Ambulatory Health Care Services

118,242

13,149

$65.75

11,007

$110.07

Hospitals

92,158

6,542

$65.56

3,502

$96.77

Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services

74,512

6,672

$84.74

16,040

$86.26

Management of Companies and Enterprises

45,649

4,709

$89.74

8,268

$93.75

Credit Intermediation and Related Activities

38,152

3,035

$70.67

5,684

$72.22

Executive, Legislative and Other

33,675

2,852

$46.34

5,648

$47.41

Food and Beverage Stores

30,654

4,118

$19.96

5,599

$22.33

Religious and Grantmaking

24,934

3,184

$43.30

3,298

$45.52

Accommodation

22,029

3,592

$26.73

3,354

$26.55

Industries With More Women than Men

Food Services and Drinking Places

108,073

23,510

$23.04

14,412

$23.89

Furniture and Related Product Manufacturing

2,414

473

$42.41

1,093

$41.33

Postal Services

13

1

$140.00

1

$100.00

Rail Transportation

11

3

$227.50

4

$158.24

Source: DEED Unemployment Insurance data, DPS driver’s license data

 

Conclusion

Despite gains educationally and professionally over the past several decades, women are still less likely to be outlier wage earners than their male counterparts, even in industries where women generally do well. Gender wage parity and employment ratios, however, have been improving among younger workers and especially in industries that have more young people. We’ve seen progress toward gender balance in recent years and we should expect to see more going forward.


1 The data set has missing values for gender. Records with a null value for gender are included in the total but not in the male or female medians.

back to top