by Sarah Garcia


Even with Vice President Kamala Harris’ elected position shattering the glass ceiling for women in politics, women remain underrepresented nationally in leadership and management positions. In light of Women’s History Month, we examined gender disparities in management in Minnesota. For our state to be its best, we need talented managers from all backgrounds to make sure our institutions work well for all.

Women are underrepresented in management positions

While women made up 48% of the 2015-2019 employed population in Minnesota, they compose just 32% of management positions across the state. Gender disparities persist despite notable achievements by women in the workforce.

Women who are managers are more likely to work in lower-paying industries

Female managers are only equally represented in the education and health care industry and underrepresented in all other industries. More telling, women are highly underrepresented in some of the highest paying industries. According to Emsi data, some of the top-paying industries in 2019 included utilities, information, finance and insurance, wholesale trade, and manufacturing. Each of these industries is overwhelmingly made up of male managers, with finance and real estate coming to the closest to equality at 60:40.

Only 1 in 4 women are in leadership positions

When we restrict the data to women in high-level leadership positions (defined as chief executives and legislators), we see even larger disparities. While 51% of Minnesota’s adults are women, only 25% of leaders across the state are women. We need to see at least twice as many women in positions of leadership in order to reach parity with the population of women among Minnesota’s adults.

Actionable steps for employers to break the glass ceiling

To reduce gender disparities in management, some actionable steps for employers are to:

  • Be explicit about your organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and allocate resources to these efforts
  • Commit to proactive recruiting strategies that focus on gender diversity
  • Regularly assess hiring and promotion policies and practices to identify and remove systemic barriers
  • Incorporate mentoring initiatives and leadership development programs aimed at women and other underrepresented communities
  • Identify clear pathways for promotion and advancement within your organization, and reduce ambiguity in performance reviews and performance-based rewards

See our Leadership Toolkit page for more information on steps employers can take to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace.