09/28/2010 09:08 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Pay Gap Persists For Women In Management

The pay gap for women in management has narrowed slightly over the past decade and women remain underrepresented in management positions, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office.

In 2007, even though they made up 47 percent of the U.S. workforce, women filled 40 percent of management positions -- an increase of one percent since 2000. Female managers earned 81 cents for every dollar earned by male managers in 2007, up from 79 cents in 2000. That's an average salary of $52,000 for women and $75,000 for men.

Compared with their male counterparts, "female managers in 2007 had less education, were younger on average, were more likely to work part-time, and were less likely to be married or have children," the GAO reported.

But women in the workforce have made strides in terms of education. Fifty-one percent of women managers had a college education, compared with 56 percent for men. The proportion of women managers with a college degree has tripled since 1970, according to GAO.

"Women are closing the education gap, but as this report underscores that hasn't translated into closing the pay gap," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the Joint Economic Committee, which is holding a hearing on the report on Tuesday. "It is disappointing that management moms earn 79 cents for every dollar management dads earn and that number hasn't budged since 2000."

The pay gaps varied across industries, from 78 to 87 cents compared with male managers, and in the construction and transportation industries, women were more than proportionately represented in management positions.

"The persistence of pay gaps between men and women managers in the same industries underscores the urgent need for Congress to act on the Paycheck Fairness Act, to strengthen Equal Pay protections and help erase wage discrimination from the workplace," said Christine Owens, director of the National Employment Law Project. "The GAO report also underscores how much more needs to be done to make sure our public policies and private employment practices support working families and provide them the flexibility they need to achieve and advance in the workplace while also caring appropriately for their families."

The GAO cautioned that the report did not prove discrimination against women: "Our analysis neither confirms nor refutes the presence of discriminatory practices. Some of the unexplained differences in pay seen here could be explained by factors for which we lacked data or are difficult to measure, such as level of managerial responsibility, field of study, years of experience, or discriminatory practices, all of which can be found in the research literature as affecting earnings."

Mothers made up 14 percent of managers, a figure little changed in seven years. "When working women have kids, they know it will change their lives, but are surprised to learn it also changes their paychecks," said Maloney. "At a time when families are increasingly relying on the wages of working moms, paycheck fairness is one sure way to boost family incomes and improve kitchen table budgets all across America."

Click HERE to download a PDF of the GAO's report.