When Will the U.S. Opportunity Gap Close?

Uncover the depth of racial and gender career advancement gaps in American workplaces

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While the U.S. opportunity gap has been steadily narrowing over time as we see an encouraging rise in gender and racial diversity in executive and managerial ranks, the pace of change remains slow. The horizon for complete opportunity equity in American workplaces is still 80 years away.

Which groups face the largest opportunity disparities? Which industries have the worst gaps? What are the trajectories for closing executive and managerial gaps?

Explore our analysis of the latest consolidated EEO-1 data (2021) released by the EEOC, uncovering the U.S. opportunity gap broken out by race and gender across various industries, locations, and organizational levels.

What is the opportunity gap?

In a business context, the opportunity gap is the disproportionate access to opportunities — hiring, promotions, and other forms of advancement — available to certain communities. Opportunity gaps occur when groups such as women and people of color are hired or promoted at lower rates than their white, male counterparts.

Mapping the Gaps: Get Ahead of Pay and Opportunity Reporting

Opportunity gaps are closing — slowly, but at a slightly increasing pace.

Mapping the Gaps: Getting Ahead of Pay and Opportunity Reporting
Opportunity Gaps are Closing

Since 2018, the executive opportunity gap went from 6.7 to 5.6 for women of color, 3.8 to 3.6 for men of color, and 2.0 to 1.9 for white women.

For Black and Latina women (the groups most underrepresented in leadership), the gaps fell from 9.2 to 7.6 and 8.5 to 7.6, respectively.* The gains for women of color were dramatic and faster than they had been in the previous years, causing our forecasted "no-gap" for women of color to close from 2124 to 2087.

Men of color also experienced gains slightly surpassing prior years’ forecasts, though these improvements were not as significant as those experienced by women of color. Their forecasted no-gap year closed only slightly, from 2107 to 2104 — reflecting that, though their executive representation gap is smaller, it is closing more slowly. Mid-management gaps for all groups are closing at roughly the same rates as in prior years, with forecasted no-gap years of 2039 for white women, 2062 for men of color, and 2068 for women of color.

*By nature of the statistic we are using to quantify the opportunity gaps, large gaps will close more slowly than small gaps, because even small gains are a significant increase for groups that are severely underrepresented. Also, we are limited to the demographic categories used by the EEOC, which aggregate racial communities in a way that may obscure differences in outcomes between those communities (e.g., between East Asians and South Asians) and do not reflect nonbinary genders.

White men still dominate management and leadership positions.

White men are still the most overrepresented group in both management and leadership, according to the most recent consolidated EEO-1 data. They occupy 56% of the top job group and 42% in the mid-level management group, but represent only 30% of all employees. This makes them 1.9 times as likely as white women to be in these top jobs, 3.6 times as likely as men of color, and 5.6 times as likely as women of color.

These relative likelihoods make up the opportunity gap. Within each race/ethnicity, a gender opportunity gap exists, meaning women are less likely to be in management and leadership positions

Black and Latina women face the largest opportunity gaps, followed by Black men.

Black and Latina women are the most underrepresented groups in both leadership and management positions relative to their proportion of the private sector labor force. Black women are 8.4% of the workforce represented in the EEO-1 data, but only 4.1% of managers and 2.0% of executives.

Latina women are 7.9% of the workforce but 4.1% of managers and 1.9% of executives. Black men are 6.9% of the workforce,  3.9% of managers and 1.8% of executives. Smaller race/ethnicity groups — such as American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIAN), or Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander (NHOPI) — are also underrepresented, but not as severely.

White men make up 30% of all employees, yet:

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of executives
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of mid-level management

Black women make up 8.4% of all employees, yet:

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of executives
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of mid-level management

Latina women make up 7.9% of all employees, yet:

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of executives
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of mid-level management

Note: The black hash mark on each semi-circle above marks the percentage of the total employee population that group represents.

How large is the opportunity gap?

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Opportunity gap

Black Women 7.6 2.9
Latina Women 7.6 2.7
Black Men 7.0 2.5
Latino Men 5.3 2.1
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander Women 5.1 2.0
American Indian / Alaska Native Women 4.9 2.4
Multiracial Women 4.1 2.0
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander Men 3.5 1.9
American Indian / Alaska Native Men 3.2 1.9
Asian Women 2.8 1.4
Multiracial Men 2.8 1.7
White Women 1.9 1.3
Asian Men 1.4 1.0
White Men 1.0 1.0

Explore the opportunity gap

The data can be sliced and diced even further than what's represented in the chart above. Use the table below to toggle between the executive and management opportunity gaps in the U.S. and to view gaps by gender, race, and both broad and detailed intersectionalities of gender and race.

What does executive representation look like across gender and race?

In the previous charts we showed you the opportunity gap normalized by available talent. In the chart below, we show absolute representation in executive, manager, and all roles. You can see that white men make up 57% of executives, while Black women make up only 1.8% of executives.

When will the opportunity gap close?

Executive opportunity gap forecast

The opportunity gap has been slowly and steadily closing over time as the gender and racial diversity of executive ranks has increased. The executive opportunity gap is currently smallest for white women at 1.9, and we forecast that it will close in 2053. The gap is larger for women of color (5.6) than for men of color (3.6), but is closing more rapidly as organizations have added proportionately more women of color to executive ranks. If this trend continues, the gap will close for women of color in 2087 but will persist for men of color until 2104.

The chart lines illustrate the forecasted decrease in gaps, and the dots represent the gaps as they’ve been reported so far.

Executive opportunity gap forecast
Manager opportunity gap forecast

Manager opportunity gap forecast

Opportunity gaps also exist at the manager level, though they are smaller. White men are more likely to be managers than any other group, but they are not disproportionately represented to the same degree that they are among executives. The management opportunity gap is currently 1.3 for white women (forecasted to close in 2039), 1.8 for men of color (forecasted to close in 2062), and 2.4 for women of color (forecasted to close in 2068).

The chart lines illustrate the forecasted decrease in gaps, and the dots represent the gaps as they’ve been reported so far.

The aggregation does hide some inequality in the gains, however. Though there are more Black men in executive and management positions than there were in 2010, those gains have barely kept pace with the increasing number of Black men in the labor force. The end result is that the opportunity gap for Black men has only declined slightly — white men were 7.2 times as likely as Black men to be executives in 2010, and 7.0 times as likely in 2021.

What is the opportunity gap by state and metro?

By state

Opportunity gaps vary significantly by state. In every state and in DC, the racial opportunity gap is larger than the gender opportunity gap. Use the interactive map below to see the opportunity gaps faced by different groups for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

By state

Opportunity gaps vary significantly by state. In every state and in DC, the racial opportunity gap is larger than the gender opportunity gap. The map below shows the opportunity gaps faced by different groups for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

By metro

We can also analyze which metro areas have the smallest and largest opportunity gaps. We included any metro area with at least 100,000 workers reported. In every metro, white men are disproportionately represented among executives. However, the degree of that over-representation varies.

What is the opportunity gap by industry?

Opportunity gap

Relative to men, white workers, or white men

Accommodation and Food Services (Combined) 2.0 7.6 2.9 2.9 2.9
Administrative, Support, Waste Management, and Remediation Services 1.8 5.5 1.8 6.1 8.5
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting 1.7 14.1 1.7 14.6 21.4
Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation 1.4 3.4 1.5 3.8 4.1
Construction 0.8 6.1 1.0 7.1 2.9
Educational Services 1.7 1.9 1.8 2.3 2.9
Finance and Insurance 2.8 2.9 2.7 2.7 7.5
Health Care and Social Assistance 2.7 2.8 2.9 3.4 7.4
Information 1.5 2.4 1.4 2.4 3.3
Management of Companies and Enterprises 2.2 3.2 2.2 3.3 6.4
Manufacturing (Combined) 1.5 3.3 1.4 3.2 4.7
Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction 0.9 2.9 0.9 3.3 1.7
Other Services (except Public Administration) 1.5 2.7 1.6 3.4 3.4
Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services 1.6 2.1 1.6 2.1 3.4
Real Estate and Rental and Leasing 1.6 4.2 1.7 5.1 5.3
Utilities 1.0 2.6 0.9 2.6 2.5
Warehousing (Combined) 5.3 5.3 5.3 5.3 5.3
Wholesale Trade 1.7 3.7 1.7 4.1 4.9

How have demographics changed over time?

How have demographics changed over time?













































































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How are different groups represented in different job groups?

This table shows how specific communities are spread across job groups. For example, executives make up 1.6% of all employees, but 3.0% of white, male employees. The most common job groups are Professionals, Service Workers, and Office and Clerical workers, though this is not true for all groups. Asian workers are much more likely than any other group to be classified as Professionals, appearing in that group at roughly twice the base rate.

Industry Gender
American Indian / 
Alaska Native Women 0.6% 5.8% 16.9% 6.0% 15.9% 16.3% 1.2% 6.4% 9.0% 21.9% 100.0%
American Indian / 
Alaska Native Men 
Asian Women 1.1% 9.6% 44.4% 5.6% 7.1% 10.2% 0.6% 4.7% 4.8% 11.9% 100.0%
Asian Men 2.1% 13.7% 45.6% 5.1% 5.1% 4.2% 3.1% 7.7% 5.9% 7.4% 100.0%
Black / African American Women 0.4% 4.9% 16.3% 5.5% 11.6% 19.3% 0.7% 6.7% 9.3% 25.3% 100.0%
Black / African American Men 0.4% 5.6% 10.3% 3.9% 9.7% 6.1% 5.9% 21.5% 18.4% 18.1% 100.0%
Latina Women 0.4% 5.2% 13.2% 4.3% 13.9% 16.9% 0.9% 7.6% 13.7% 23.9% 100.0%
Latina Men 0.6% 6.6% 9.5% 4.2% 9.8% 5.5% 11.4% 17.1% 19.9% 15.4% 100.0%
Multiracial Women 0.8% 7.0% 22.1% 5.0% 13.6% 18.7% 0.6% 3.8% 8.3% 20.1% 100.0%
Multiracial Men 1.1% 8.0% 19.0% 4.8% 12.9% 7.3% 5.9% 11.2% 14.9% 14.9% 100.0%
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander Women 0.6% 6.8% 18.3% 4.8% 12.0% 17.9% 0.8% 6.9% 10.4% 21.3% 100.0%
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander Men 0.9% 7.3% 13.7% 5.4% 8.8% 5.9% 8.4% 17.6% 16.7% 
White Women 1.6% 10.8% 30.9% 5.8% 11.7% 17.5% 0.7% 4.0% 3.8% 13.2% 100.0%
White Men 3.0% 14.0% 23.8% 5.3% 10.9% 5.1% 9.9% 13.3% 7.5% 7.2% 100.0%
Overall 1.7% 10.0% 23.4% 5.2% 10.9% 11.1% 5.0% 10.1% 9.0% 13.6% 100.0%

Definitions and methodology

Below are definitions of many of the terms we used, explanations for where the data were limited, and a description of the methodology we used to calculate the opportunity gap.

What terms and definitions did we use?

We define executives as the EEO Job Group "executive/senior-level officials and managers," and managers as "first/mid-level officials and managers."

We sometimes refer to the EEO-1 data as the Private Sector, though certain groups are excluded: federal contractors with fewer than 50 employees, and non-federal contractors with fewer than 100 employees. Employers need not report leased, seasonal, or contract employees, meaning that the increasingly numerous gig and contract workers are not represented here.

EEO-1 reports require employers to report a binary gender, so any analysis of trans, nonbinary, or otherwise gender nonconforming workers is not possible using these data. The EEO-1 also does not publish data regarding other protected or historically underrepresented groups, such as people with disabilities, veterans, refugees, the LGBTQIA+ community. Certain EEO-1 race/ethnicity categories hide potentially disparate outcomes, such as the inclusion of Middle Eastern & North African workers in the White category, and the extremely broad Asian and Hispanic/Latino categories.

How did we calculate the opportunity gap?

We quantified the opportunity gap by calculating how much a community is over- or under-represented in executive and management job groups by comparing their representation in that job group versus overall. We then compared that rate to the communities most over-represented in those groups: men for gender gaps, white employees for race gaps, and white men for intersectional gaps.

For example, women are 33% of executives but 48% of the workforce, so their relative likelihood of falling in the top job group is 0.69. Men, on the other hand, are 68% of executives and 52% of the workforce, so their relative likelihood is 1.29. We take the ratio of those two relative likelihoods to calculate the opportunity gap for women: 1.9.


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