” The US labor force has increasingly provided unique opportunities for professional women, and several industries have exemplified this trend. The growing female share of college degrees has benefited women in the workforce. ”
It is undoubtedly a good time to be a female professional in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) most recent databook on women in the labor force, the unemployment rate for women was lower in 2012 than it was for men, and 38.0% of employed women aged 25 to 64 earned college degrees that year, up from just 11.0% in 1970. Data from the US Department of Education illustrates this achievement gap: in 2013, more than half of all associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees were awarded to women. The growing female share of college degrees has benefited women in the workforce; in 2011, 28.1% of wives in dual-income families made more than their husbands, marking an increase of more than 10.0% since 1987 (latest available data).
However, workplace conditions have not been entirely rosy for women. The BLS notes that women continue to represent a minority in wage and salary worker unions, and 8.3% of all female military veterans were unemployed in 2012, compared with just 6.9% of male veterans. Employed women work fewer hours per week than men, and more working women than working men live below the poverty line. Even female entrepreneurs and higher-paid working women contend with significant disadvantages in the business world; across all professions, women are estimated to earn only 82.0% of what men earn. In highly paid professions, the gap is even more egregious. For instance, female physicians and surgeons earned an estimated 28.3% less than their male counterparts in 2013.
Nevertheless, women have more opportunities today than ever before. Using its database of more than 700 industry reports, in conjunction with BLS employment statistics, IBISWorld has narrowed down six industries that offer unique employment advantages for women. These industries are characterized by strong growth in revenue and employment, particularly in the number of female workers.
1. Tire Manufacturing in the US
Projected revenue growth (2010-2014): 6.2% per year on average Projected employment growth (2010-2014): 0.8% per year on average Growth in number of female employees (2009-2013): 16.8% per year on average Average industry wage (2013): $62,200
Ladies, start your engines! The Tire Manufacturing industry has experienced significant growth in recent years, driven by strong postrecessionary rebounds in the manufacturing sector and compounded by the introduction of tariffs intended to limit imports from China. Though imports still satisfy more than one-third of domestic demand for tires, the total number of domestic tire shipments has risen an annualized 3.3% over the five years to 2014, indicating that the Tire Manufacturing industry is alive and well.
Good news for manufacturing is good news for women. According to a recent study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, the automotive manufacturing sector is facing a shortage of skilled and educated workers. As women continue to earn an increasing number of advanced degrees, manufacturing industries will benefit from the experience and expertise that female employees bring to the table. Some of these industries have already begun to tap into this significant talent resource: the total number of women working in the Tire Manufacturing industry grew an annualized 16.8% from 2009 to 2013.
2. E-Commerce & Online Auctions in the US
Projected revenue growth (2010-2014): 10.3% per year on average Projected employment growth (2010-2014): 6.6% per year on average Growth in number of female employees (2009-2013): 15.5% per year on average Average industry wage (2013): $69,500
Female consumers have long been thought to hold the purse strings of the US economy. The often-cited (but rarely sourced) statistic that women are responsible for 83.0% of consumer purchases in the United States may be largely folklore, but there is no denying that the retail sector considers women in all demographics (i.e. teenagers, professionals, moms and the elderly) an integral customer base, and the online retail sector is no exception. In recent years, female shoppers have embraced technology and trends that drive online spending. Mobile devices have become increasingly popular platforms for online shopping; a 2013 Pew Research study revealed that an estimated 35.0% of US women over the age of 18 own a tablet, compared with 32.0% of men.
As male and female consumers alike have grown more comfortable shopping online, revenue for the E-commerce and Online Auctions industry is expected to expand an annualized 10.3% during the five years to 2014. In addition, to keep up with increased demand, industry employment has expanded accordingly. Female workers have been in an especially good position to benefit from this hiring boom and not just in traditional female retail roles such as shopgirl. Woman Engineer magazine rated e-commerce giant Amazon the third-most desirable employer to work for in 2014. As companies began to recognize women’s technical expertise and the perspective they offer on retail and consumer spending, the number of female employees in the E-Commerce and Online Auction industry rose an annualized 15.5% in the five years to 2013.
3. Oil Drilling & Gas Extraction in the US
Projected revenue growth (2010-2014): 12.8% per year on average Projected employment growth (2010-2014): 6.2% per year on average Growth in number of female employees (2009-2013): 11.6% per year on average Average industry wage (2013): $131,800
Technological advances, coupled with strong demand, have led to a boom in the Oil Drilling and Gas Extraction industry over the past five years. As hydraulic fracturing (also known as fracking) and horizontal drilling have given companies access to resource reserves that were previously prohibitively expensive to reach, industry revenue has correspondingly jumped by double digits in recent years. To access and process all of these lucrative oil and gas stores, companies have steadily increased their hiring, and new boomtowns have even sprung up in resource-rich states like Montana and North Dakota.
Traditionally, oil has been a man’s business; drilling jobs can be dangerous and require considerable physical strength. As oil drill and gas extraction facilities have emerged throughout the American West in recent years, mostly men have moved in proximity to these areas to take advantage of the industry’s job opportunities. However, with the average industry wage topping $130,000 per year, women have been quick to follow, and the total number of female employees in this industry grew an annualized 11.6% during the five years to 2013. According to North Dakota’s state jobs agency, the town of Williston, ND has experienced a significant population spike due to the oil boom. As the boom has matured, women have increasingly moved to these towns to permanently join their industry-employed husbands or to look for work in this thriving industry. Moreover, as the industry has grown and developed, it has added more jobs that do not require significant physical strength, such as technical positions, which are better suited to the industry’s bumper crop of female employees.
4. Optometrists in the US
Projected revenue growth (2010-2014): 3.0% per year on average Projected employment growth (2010-2014): 1.1% per year on average Growth in number of female employees (2009-2013): 9.4% per year on average Average industry wage (2013): $38,400
Industries across the medical sector have experienced hiring surges in recent years, as a shortage of skilled professionals plagued the sector just as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) caused an influx of newly insured patients to demand more medical care. Operators within this sector have scrambled to hire doctors, nurses, technicians and support staff to satisfy this growing demand, and the Optometrists industry has been no exception; in particular, demand for pediatric optometrists has increased as the PPACA designated pediatric vision services a mandatory benefit under all health plans.
According to the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, 64.5% of all graduates from professional doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) programs are female. In addition to the industry’s high average wage (the average female optometrist who has been practicing for five years can expect to earn at least $100,000 per year), optometry appeals to medical professionals who may wish to own their own practices without investing years in a traditional MD program. The relatively laidback atmosphere of an optometry practice also offers an opportunity for women to work in a medical field that facilitates a better work-life balance as well as time spent outside of the office; nevertheless, more than three-quarters of female optometrists work full time, according to Women in Optometry magazine.
5. Home Care Providers in the US
Projected revenue growth (2010-2014): 3.6% per year on average Projected employment growth (2010-2014): 1.4% per year on average Growth in number of female employees (2009-2013): 6.8% per year on average Average industry wage (2013): $25,600
Home healthcare flourished during the recession, as individuals who lost their private insurance or were otherwise seeking affordable healthcare turned to providers in this industry. Industry growth has remained strong even as the economy has continued to recover, largely thanks to the graying US population, as the elderly are major users of healthcare services in general and home healthcare, specifically. According to Health Market Science, demand from the aging baby-boomer population could add as many as 1.0 million jobs to the Home Care Providers industry during the next 10 years. Traditionally, the Home Care Providers industry has been predominantly female; women accounted for 88.2% of industry employees in 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Although average wages are low and the industry is expected to experience some challenges due to slashed Medicare funding, the 6.8% annualized growth in the number of women that home healthcare providers employ indicates the extent to which this industry is a perennial source of steady employment for women. Moreover, the industry’s low barriers to entry (including low capital costs and no licensing or accreditation requirements in some states) make home care an ideal industry for women looking to begin their careers in the medical sector; according to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than four-fifths of female home health aides enter the industry as a stepping stone to becoming nurses.
6. Hair & Nail Salons in the US
Projected revenue growth (2010-2014): 2.6% per year on average Projected employment growth (2010-2014): 3.8% per year on average Growth in number of female employees (2009-2013): 6.8% per year on average Average industry wage (2013): $13,200
Cosmetology may seem like an outdated professional field for women, but today’s industry establishments are far from your grandmother’s hair and nail salons. Modern spas and salons offer a broad variety of hair, nail and skin care services to a wide array of markets, and high-end industry establishments can take advantage of the latest beauty science advances to offer cutting-edge products to their clients. Such products have driven recent industry revenue gains, particularly as consumers have increased their discretionary spending in the years since the recession, leading to expected 2.6% annualized revenue growth in the five years to 2014. Innovative and specialized products are not the only features setting today’s salons apart from the beauty parlors of yesteryear. According to an analysis of the 2007 Economic Census performed by the Professional Beauty Association, 61.0% of all businesses in the Hair and Nail Salon industry are female-owned; though just 30.0% of businesses in the overall US private sector are female-owned, this figure represents a 4.0% increase over 10 years, indicating that women are increasingly interested in and able to open their own businesses. Hair and nail salons in the United States continue to represent an opportunity for female entrepreneurs, particularly because an estimated 85.0% of industry employees are women, which gives would-be female business owners an opportunity to learn the nail industry from the inside before opening establishments of their own.