Sixty years ago, American women began heading off to the workplace in droves. But in the last couple of decades, that trend has completely stalled out, CNNMoney reported.


"It seems that we are stuck," said Cornell University economist Francine Blau, who co-authored a paper on this topic with her husband, Lawrence Kahn, also a Cornell economist.


What went wrong?


They point to a lack of family-friendly labor laws in the United States as a key part of the problem.


In 1950, only 37 percent of women ages 25-54 participated in the labor force, meaning they had a job or were looking for one. The number rose rapidly, climbing to 74 percent by 1990, but then stalled out.


As of last year, America ranked 27th out of 37 developed countries for women's labor force participation, according to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.


The United States remains the only major industrialized country in the world that doesn't mandate some sort of paid parental leave. 


And for those women who have stuck it out in the labor force and advanced to the C-suite, pay remains uneven, Bloomberg reported.


Last year, of the five best-paid executives at each of the Standard & Poor's 500 index companies, 198 were women, or 8 percent of the total. Those high-achievers on average earned $5.3 million, 18 percent less than men, data compiled by Bloomberg shows.