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Special Report : THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WOMAN ON THE JOB

THE FACE of the work force is changing in Southern California, as it is throughout America. And women are playing a major role in that change.

In the past two decades, women have profoundly altered the workplace by their sheer presence. Between 1970 and 1983, partly with the help of Equal Opportunity Employment legislation, the number of working women in America grew by 17 million. Of the 25 million new jobs generated between 1972 and 1985, 64% were filled by women.

But now they are going several steps further. Changes in society, business and technology are luring women to new fields of work. What careers attract them these days, and why? The following special report offers a variety of answers.

For instance, one important new trend is the rapid rise of women entrepreneurs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the number of self-employed women rose by 86% in a decade, from 1.5 million in 1975 to 2.8 million in 1985, an increase three times greater than the number of self-employed men. A 1982 U.S. Census Bureau survey ranked Los Angeles second, behind New York City, in the number of women-owned businesses. San Diego was sixth.

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Women are also penetrating the sales forces and entering technological fields, where their talents and drive are easily measured. They now make up 33% of middle-management positions in corporations, compared with 19% in 1972. And in the trades, they are swapping pink collars for blue ones.

Such changes are not always reflected in salaries and top jobs, however.

Although in education women reached equality with men in 1985, when both completed an average 12.8 school years, women continued to earn much less. In 1956, female full-time employees’ earnings were 65% of men’s; by 1986, they were 64% (a statistic explained by the large numbers of women working in low-paying, non-union service industries).

And as far as joining the ranks of top corporate officers, women have not come a long way, baby. Still, where the issue once was getting a foot in the company door, now it’s getting a seat in the board room.

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