The growing clout of women as drivers of the U.S. economy will radically alter the business and investing landscape in years to come
By Justin LaHart and Lauren Silva Laughlin | The Wall Street Journal
Over the past half-century, women have profoundly reshaped the U.S. economy. The changes that are happening now could be just as significant. Investors should take notice.
In 1970, only half of women in the U.S. aged 25 to 54 were in the workforce. Since then that figure has risen to three-quarters. For men it has moved in the opposite direction, slipping from 96% to 89%. Over the same time, more and more young women enrolled in college, leading them to more lucrative jobs. Women working full-time now earn 80 cents on the dollar to men, versus 59 cents in 1970.
That hardly counts as pay parity, and the gap is particularly large in the upper echelons of management. There has been significant progress, though. There were no women chief executives in the Fortune 500 in 1970. Now there are 33 and all of the companies in the S&P 500 now have at least one woman on their board of directors.
Alongside that progress has come gains in women’s spending power that have radically altered what companies sell and how they sell it. Entire industries, such as child-care services for working parents, have sprung up. Online ordering services, from food to clothing, are wildly successful in selling to working moms. Now big household decisions from cars to home buying to retirement services are being remade as women have a bigger say in families’ financial choices.