As I speak and train within my company and profession, I'm often asked why the profession's cadre of top income earners doesn't include more women.

My first reply is that there are more than many think, and that number is growing!

My second reply is that it's important to understand the context of this observation.

According to the Direct Selling Association (DSA), 82 percent of the field force in network marketing is comprised of women. But this blanket figure can be misleading unless you carefully distinguish between two broad categories of companies within the profession.

One type leans towards higher compensation for selling product, and comparatively little pay on the multilevel depth of the business. These companies tend to offer less in the way of residual income, because the majority of income derives from going out personally and selling the product. In these companies, very high incomes (such as six figures per month) are significantly more difficult to achieve and maintain—and most of these companies are dominated by women.

The other type of company provides less compensation for personally selling product and more for building teams and depth in the compensation plan, thus creating greater opportunity for larger checks. The businesses of this category are typically dominated by men.

Because there are fewer high-income earners in the female-dominated companies than in the male-dominated companies, there are more male top earners in our profession overall. What clouds the picture even further is that companies of the first type often brand themselves as direct selling companies, while in reality they are also multilevel marketing companies (and are included as such by the DSA).

Over the last several years, many companies have been using a hybrid type of pay plan with more balanced compensation, bridging the gap between these two types of business. We are making amazing progress, because more and more women are coming into their own greatness and realizing their full potential.

I've been fortunate to be part of a company the past twenty-five years that is dominated by strong, talented, and well-paid women. We've utilized feminine, nurturing, loving qualities to create a culture of edification and mentoring that has made space and diversity for both women and men to step into leadership roles, and be well compensated for doing so.

Our profession provides a uniquely level playing field, with the freedom and flexibility for women to truly live the life they desire. It's an attractive and powerful environment, yet we still have a long way to go to realize its full potential. Some of this needed work has to do with how we structure our businesses and compensation plans, and some of it is internal, in terms of building our own confidence and finding our place to shine.

DONNA JOHNSON has been a top earner and
mentor in network marketing for thirty-three years.
She lives in Arizona, Wisconsin, and Jamaica,
and travels the world to visit the orphanages she
and her team support.