Women will become, in the next few months, the majority of the American workforce, passing the 50% threshold, according to The Economist’s Dec. 30, 2009 issue. Here are a few items from the article highlighting this accomplishment, and pointing out the challenges.

High points:
Women run many of the world’s great companies, e.g. PepsiCo in the United States and Areva in France.
There is a demand for female brains. Woman are a majority of professional workers in the U.S.
Women make up the majority of university graduates; by 2011 there will be 2.6 million more female than male university students in America.

Only 2% of the bosses of America’s largest companies are women.
Women continue to be paid significantly less than men, on average. In America, childless women earn almost as much as men, but mothers earn significantly less.
The U.S. is the only rich country that refuses to provide mothers with paid maternity leave.

Read the entire Women and Work: We Did It! article. Two additional articles in that issue look more closely at Female Power: Women in the Workplace and Womenomics: Feminist Management Theories.

It has always seemed strange to me that business, which otherwise is obsessed with efficiency, would voluntarily, and with forethought, deliberately undervalue and underutilize as much as one-half of one of its resources. With a new majority hopefully the paradigm will continue to shift to equality.

“Women’s economic empowerment is arguably the biggest social change of our times,” says The Economist. “Societies that try to resist this trend will pay a heavy price in the form of wasted talent and frustrated citizens.”

Steve Lange
Palo Alto Software