Good and Growing Middle-Skill Jobs Exclude Women, New Report Shows

To narrow the wage gap, women need greater access to well-paying jobs
in key growth sectors

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Women hold only a third of positions in growing middle-skill jobs that
pay at least $35,000 or as much as $102,000 per year, according to a new
by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR). These
middle-skill jobs, which require a high school education but not a
college degree, pay a living wage and can serve as a stepping stone to a
higher-paying career for women workers, who now serve as the sole or
co-breadwinner in half of American families.

The report, supported by JPMorgan Chase as part of its $250 million,
five-year New Skills at Work initiative, analyzes jobs in the key growth
sectors of manufacturing; information technology; and transportation,
distribution and logistics (TDL), and compares the skills required for
various lower-paid, female-dominated jobs to those required for
higher-paying, male-dominated occupations. As companies throughout the
United States face a skills shortage, the report identifies potential
“on-ramp” occupations for women that will enable them to develop their
existing skills to move into jobs in these growing sectors.

“Progress on closing the gender wage gap has slowed to a halt in the
last decade,” said Ariane Hegewisch, IWPR Program Director for
Employment & Earnings and lead author of the study
. “At the same
time, employers are facing a shortage in workers who can fill these fast
growing jobs in middle-skill sectors. Integrating these occupations is a
win-win-win for women, employers and the economy as a whole.”

Women’s earnings are essential to family economic security and broader
economic growth, yet women still face a persistent gender wage gap, over
half of which is due to occupational and industry segregation, where
lower-paid jobs are typically held by women and higher-paying jobs are
typically held by men. Women are also more likely than men to have
completed high school, have some post-secondary college qualifications
and have a 2- or 4-year degree. This highlights that not only are women
lacking opportunities to build careers that can support their families,
but American companies may be missing out on a skilled, educated
workforce that can drive economic success.

“With some of the most important sectors in the U.S. economy lacking
enough skilled workers to meet demand, there is an opportunity for women
to obtain roles that have traditionally been held by men,” said Chauncy
Lennon, Head of Workforce Initiatives, JPMorgan Chase
. “Increasing
access to new kinds of skills training for women would go a long way in
tackling their underrepresentation in good manufacturing, IT and
transportation jobs.”

The report finds a startling lack of women in higher-paying middle-skill
occupations in each key growth sector:

  • In manufacturing, there will be 533,000 good jobs available over the
    next decade. Currently, only 7 percent of workers in these jobs are
  • In information technology, there will be 240,000 good jobs available
    over the next decade. Currently only 29 percent of workers in these
    jobs are women
  • In transportation, distribution, and logistics, there will be 1.3
    million good jobs available over the next decade. Currently, only 9
    percent of workers in these jobs are women

Using an innovative analysis of government occupational data, the report
seeks to identify potential talent pipelines to help women move into
these good jobs. IWPR researchers compared over 252 job
characteristics—including training requirements, on-the-job tasks, and
the attitudes, experiences and attributes of workers— to identify
middle-skill, female-dominated occupations that can serve as “on-ramps”
to male-dominated target jobs facing skills shortages. The analysis

  • Many women work in jobs that already have a similar skill profile
    to better-paying, male-dominated jobs
    . In fact, if 10
    percent of women workers entered similar but higher-paying
    male-dominated jobs, the median earnings for these women would
    increase by over 50 percent, and for all women workers by 5 percent.
  • Female packaging and filling machine operators could increase their
    earnings by over 50 percent by becoming welders
    . Women make
    up 56 percent of packaging and filling machine operators. Similar to
    welders, the job requires arm-hand steadiness, manual dexterity and
    control precision. With additional certified training, these women
    could have success in this higher-paying career path. Median annual
    earnings for welders are $38,762, which is 50 percent higher than the
    $25,851 per-year earnings for packaging and filling machine operators.
  • Library assistants—8 in 10 of whom are women—get paid almost
    $24,000 less per year than IT support specialists, nearly 3 in 4 of
    whom are men.
    Based on the analysis, these two occupations share
    many similar characteristics, and with some additional training and
    education, library assistants could become IT support specialists,
    improving their own earnings and filling growing demand for IT workers.

The report concludes with recommendations for employers, policymakers
and workforce developers to create more gender-inclusive environments
that successfully retain female talent. IWPR also launched an
accompanying interactive website,,
which provides a searchable database of middle-skills jobs, allowing
users to see the relationship between lower and higher-paid middle-skill
occupations and identify opportunities for “on-ramping” women workers
into better jobs.

About The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR)

The Institute
for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR)
is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt
organization that conducts rigorous research and disseminates its
findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote
public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies.

About JPMorgan Chase

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) is a leading global financial services
firm with assets of $2.4 trillion and operations worldwide. The Firm is
a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and
small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing,
and asset management. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average,
JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of consumers in the United States
and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and
government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands. Information
about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at


JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Steve O’Halloran, 302-282-5699
Clark, 202-785-5100