The numbers, taken from an AWNY-commissioned survey of 2,000 women and men, reinforce this belief. The median income for professional women in the communications industry is $42,600. And for professional men it's $73,200. But the numbers also suggest that "old gals," when properly connected, outdo even "old boys." The median income for AWNY members is revealed to be $85,600--or 17% greater than that reported for professional men.
However, having noted this irony, one can immediately dismiss it. The AWNY report is diminished not a whir by the exclusivity of AWNY members. It took a right-winger like Richard Nixon to open negotiations with China. (Any Democrat would have been rendered red-faced, if not voted out of office, for having gone soft on Commies.) It's just as appropriate--at least in terms of credibility--that a group of over-achievers stand up for their underappreciated sisters.
In other words, these are no sour-grape feminists with battle-axes to grind. These are, rather, the best professionals that money can keep in the communications business. That's why it's so gratifying that AWNY's two-year, landmark research has uncovered, along with plenty of dirt, some absolute nuggets.
Consider, for instance, that 85% of industry women (vs. 88% of industry men) report being satisfied with their jobs. That's an amazing statistic in light of folk wisdom that says you can't get 90% of America to agree on anything. In communications however, job satisfaction gets even greater the higher one moves up the ladder and the longer one stays in her career.
Little burn-out and no boredom--who could ask for more? Certainly not upper-management women in communications, 92% of whom report being still satisfied with their careers (vs. 91% of upper-management men). And certainly not 20-year-plus female veterans, 90% of whom report remaining satisfied with their jobs (vs. 90% of 20-year-plus male veterans).
The message of all this satisfaction? Mammas can do a lot worse than letting their daughters grow up and into communications, though Jane Fitzgibbon, Ogilvy & Mather's director of Trend-Sights and an AWNY advisor, tempers this insight by placing the promise of job satisfaction in context. In light of all the restructurings, layoffs and job freezes, which account for the alarming reductions that the AWNY report recorded for company loyalty and corporate morale, Fitzgibbon notes that some of the current optimism may be of the "Russian kind."
"That's where a pessimist thinks things are terrible and going to get worse," Fitzgibbon said last Friday at a press conference to unveil the study, "and an optimist thinks things are so terrible they can't get worse."
Then, too, there's the perennial optimism of all communications workers, a group able to squeeze lemonade from even the sourest of lemons. Significant percentages of women and men alike believe the dramatic retrenchments of recent years will, by the year 2000, remove "excessive layers of management," improve the "quality of professionalism" and lead to better "salaries." (Never mind their own jobs may be swept away in the process.)
Between the sexes, there's hope as well. Rena Bartos, a member of AWNY's research team, reported that there is now "mutual agreement" on what constitutes sexual harassment--a development attributed, in large part, to the "short course" the Anita Hill hearings gave the entire country. Such agreement is deemed essential for punishing, if not eliminating, on-the-job harassment.
The bad news, though not at all surprising, is no less significant. The AWNY report did more than show a glass ceiling exists. It gave its measurements. In communications, the income gap between the salaries of women and men begins at $6,700 in the first five years, widens to $12,600 in the next five, increases to $21,700 in the next decade and levels off at $31,700 after 20 years.
"This discrepancy, in my view, is appalling," said Pat Carbine of the Ms. Foundation and another member of AWNY's research team. "I really hoped we would get acknowledgment from men that this was a problem that needed to be addressed."
What AWNY found instead was that a majority of men are still in denial: More than 75% believe women and men have equal chances in assuming responsibility, in receiving a promotion, and in commanding the same salary. It wasn't lost on Carbine, of course, that it's precisely this sort of denial that the AWNY report now, effectively, denies.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)