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About Women

Encouraging Changes in Attitudes and Jobs

January 11, 1987|JANICE MALL

Working Woman magazine has published its eighth annual salary survey, an exercise partly aimed at showing women where the big money is. The large paychecks are, not surprisingly, still issued for jobs in fields occupied mainly by men, but there have been some encouraging changes for women.

Physicians and psychologists received the highest pay increases of all fields in the United States--20% over the last two years--according to the survey. Both are fields being entered by increasing numbers of women. Some current average annual pay figures: $71,100 for a general practice/family practice physician; $103,200 for a doctor in internal medicine; $151,800 for surgeons.

People (overwhelmingly women) who work with young children are apparently not doing it for the money. They got poorer during the period 1983-1985. While the cost of living rose 8%, while other teachers averaged raises of 13% to 17% and while the average U.S. worker got a 10% increase, pre-school and kindergarten teachers showed no pay growth at all.

With the exception of doctors and dentists, most of the jobs with large salaries are in management, with enormous disparities in salary depending on the size of what is managed. For example, the general manager of a hotel with 99 rooms or less averages $29,380. The manager of a hotel with 600 to 799 rooms earns about triple that, $93,177.

The $100,000-plus jobs are held by few women or men, such as: general manager of a hotel of more than 1,000 rooms ($109,813); investment banker ($103,709); TV news anchor in top-10 market ($114,000), chief administrators of large hospitals ($130,000).

While the income cannot be easily averaged or described by statistics, one of the largest trends turned up by the survey was the number of women going for the risks and satisfactions of working for themselves. In the last 10 years, the number of women going into business for themselves increased at three times the rate of newly self-employed men, and women now make up a fourth of all the small business owners in the country.

Contrary to some reports that the mid-'80s have brought a conservative backlash to the feminist movement of the '70s, a recent study from the University of Michigan finds that support for the Women's Movement has grown stronger in every demographic group in the last 10 years.

The only group that has not increased substantially in its support of so-called women's causes is college graduate women. But the survey said that they had all along been twice as likely as other women to be pro-feminist.

Karen Oppenheim Mason, an associate professor of sociology at the university and research associate at the Population Studies Center, directed the analysis of data from a University of Chicago survey of men's and women's opinions conducted in 1977 and 1985. Opinions changed considerably during that period.

The percentage of women who believed that men should be achievers and women should take care of the home and family dropped from 62% in 1977 to 46% in 1985. The percentage of men who believed women should stay home dropped from 68% to 50%.

In 1977, 59% of women said a man's career was more important than a woman's. In 1985, only 36% thought so. Men's change in this respect was comparable, with the number who thought their careers took priority dropping from 50% to 36%.

Men appeared to be more negative than women about mothers of small children working. The number of women who said they believed that a working mother has as warm a relationship with her children as a full-time mother rose from 54% to 67% between 1977 and 1985. The number of men who believed this increased from 41% to 53%, but when asked in 1985 whether they thought pre-school children were likely to suffer if their mother worked, 61% of the men and only 46% of the women agreed.

The portion of the population that endorses traditional sex roles is a substantial minority, with younger, better-educated men and women and employed women and their husbands more likely to approve of feminist positions. The study also found that those who attend church frequently tend to be more traditional and that black men are more conservative than white men in their attitudes toward women's roles.

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