American women roared into the workforce in the last month of 2019, according to data from the U.S. Labor Department, accounting for about 139,000 of the 145,000 jobs added to the economy in December.
It was enough to tip the jobs scale in favor of women for only the second time, giving them 50.04 percent of paid jobs, up from 49.99 percent in November, the Washington Post pointed out. The last time women had such a majority was in early 2010, as a volatile labor market emerged from the Great Recession.
This time around, however, experts expect the majority to last. Largely due to strong job growth in women-dominated industries like health care and education, the recent surge is also fueled by women graduating from college and coming into the workforce at accelerated rates compared to men.
Some experts believe the trend will translate into greater equality for women in the workplace.
“As women get into more senior positions, it creates more space to hire more women and brings more equality into management decisions,” Betsey Stevenson, a professor of public policy and economics at the University of Michigan and an economic adviser in the Obama administration told the Washington Post. “It’s one of those things that’s self-reinforcing and keeps on going.”
In the meantime, myriad obstacles including pay gaps, opportunity gaps and racial discrimination against women of various ethnicities will continue to block the path to equality.
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