Wealth Management

What kind of ‘Barbie’ are you? Here are the Barbieland jobs that most real-life women hold, according to government data

Margot Robbie as Barbie in a movie from Mattel and Warner Bros.
Mattel | Warner Bros.

In the “Barbie” movie, the narrator says, “Barbie has a great day every day.” It might be because she gets to be what her heart desires.

The film’s Barbies participate in a wide range of roles and professions, from an all-women Supreme Court and president, to lawyers, journalists, athletes, doctors and scientists.

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In real life, women accounted for 374,000 lawyers and another 34,000 judges, magistrates and other judicial workers in 2023, according to a new report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics detailing occupational data for U.S. women based on Barbieland roles.

In that same year, there were more women in construction and extraction jobs (240,000) than those who were writers and authors (44,000) and editors (46,000) combined, the government agency found.

While women continue to face some obstacles, they are slowly becoming more represented in fields. Both women and the broader economy stand to benefit.

“The group doing best in the economy is college-educated women,” said Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter.

“Their participation is expanding, their shares [in] leadership is only gradually going up, and the recent changes to the economy, like the shift to remote work, really do stand to benefit women substantially,” she said.

As women’s participation in the labor force has increased over the years, the group continues to face hurdles along the way.

A tight labor market ‘translates to more opportunities’

The employment-to-population ratio for prime-age women, or those between the ages of 25 and 54, is the highest it has been since 2001, according to Alí R. Bustamante, an economist and deputy director of the worker power and economic security program at the Roosevelt Institute, a left-leaning think tank based in New York. 

“We have the tightest labor market for women in the past 20-something years,” Bustamante said. “It’s the strongest it’s been in over a generation and it translates to more opportunities for women [with] the narrowing of employment and pay gaps that are often seen between men and women.”

As of now, women earn just 84 cents for every dollar earned by men, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by the National Women’s Law Center.

The narrowed pay gap is due to the strengthened labor market, which has enabled women to transition from lower-paying and feminized occupations into higher-paying jobs they wouldn’t have accessed in the past, said Bustamante. 

Actor Margot Robbie as Barbie.
Source: Warner Brothers Pictures

Equal opportunity and civil rights also provided a legal framework that further lowered the barriers to entry for women, he said.

“As the labor market gets tighter and tighter and tighter, women’s employment rises faster than men’s,” Pollak said. “When unemployment is below 4%, for example, we find that participation rises, and a lot of that participation increases among women,” she said.

When working conditions become attractive, many more women are prepared to enter the job market, a behavior the U.S. saw during the Covid-19 pandemic when remote work was introduced.

Discrimination, culture challenges remain

While women have made strides over the years, workforce challenges are still present.

“Some of them have to do with discrimination, some of them have to do with culture, some of them have to do with the choices that we make in our relationships,” Pollak said.

Other challenges are specific to industries. For example, while construction has seen major federal investments to boost manufacturing in the U.S., women still only make up about 10% of the entire industry’s workforce, Bustamante said.

“To think of just the scale of construction employment and women are still such a marginal piece of that sector,” he said. “It really speaks to these barriers that exist that largely associated with social barriers and discriminatory practices that have largely excluded women in the industry.”

Child care and other household labor continue to fill women’s plates. In marriages where husbands and wives earn about the same, women spend roughly two hours more a week on caregiving than men, and about two and a half hours more on housework, according to data from the Pew Research Center.

“If we want to improve women’s opportunities and have a situation where it actually makes sense for women to work and they’re not punished for working by child care costs, we want to ideally … run an economic policy in such a way that we do things that favor long-term growth and sustainability,” Pollak said.

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