What are the jobs women should aspire to if they want high-paying jobs? Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowgirls, because they'll earn a whole lot more if you steer them towards science, math, engineering and technical careers. High paying jobs for women are frequently found in fields where women are scarce.
A handful of careers - many of them overlooked by the majority of women - lead to greater annual earnings than women typically average. Compare the annual salary of a teacher at $43, 000 to a pharmacist at $75,000.
And the oft-quoted factoid that women earn only 78 cents on every dollar earned by men is turned on its head in a select few occupations. These jobs actually earn women more than men, according to Warren Farrell, author of Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap - and What Women Can Do About It.
Where the Dollars Are
Farrell identifies over 80 occupations that not only bring home the bacon, but earn women from 5% up to 43% more than men holding down the same jobs. They include sales engineers (who make on average $89,908 - 43% more than their male counterparts earning $62,660) and automotive service technicians and mechanics (average earnings $40,664 for women, $31,460 for men - a difference of 29%).
Why do women earn more in these fields? A combination of factors come into play.
With far fewer women working in scientific and technical fields than men, they may be more able to pick and choose job offers from companies eager to recruit women and fulfill diversity requirements frequently specified by government contracts.
Existing societal expectations - that women are more verbal, more eager to please, and easier to talk to than men - make them ideal candidates for jobs that combine technical expertise with sales.
And any woman who's ever been afraid to take a car into an automotive repair shop because she might be 'taken for a ride' and charged for unnecessary work can explain why the trust factor would be significantly higher if the mechanic doing the repairs turned out to be another woman. Even men, when surveyed as to the preferred gender of their mechanic, frequently chose a woman because of this perceived sense of greater trust and integrity.
Money vs. Meaning
Choosing a non-traditional career path does have its price beyond pay alone. For women who tend to be drawn toward work that is seen as fulfilling, the drawback is less meaningful work. The labor involved is frequently more physical than mental; and outdated yet persistent perceptions about what's appropriate for women still linger, influencing the choices women make.
Models of Success
In many ways, however, the possibility of more and more women entering non-traditional fields is a catch-22. Young women need to see models of successful older females in these roles before they can envision themselves taking their place; yet enough examples won't exist if women don't enter these fields in greater numbers.
Perhaps the greatest obstacle women face in deciding to pursue non-traditional careers isn't an existing external job climate, but a conflicting internal debate.
"Occupational Outlook Handbook" Bureau of Labor Statistics 18 July 2007.
Sahadi, Jeanne. " Where women's pay trumps men's" CNNMoney.com 02 March 2006
Sahadi, Jeanne. " 9 jobs where women make more than men" CNNMoney.com 28 February 2006.