Women may be happy about the strides they’ve made in corporate America, but they’re hardly satisfied.
“The corporate landscape is changing for the best, but the numbers remain stagnant,” says Charlotte Laurent-Ottomane, president of ION, a consortium of 14 regional organizations advancing women in business.
“It’s true women are increasingly becoming fixtures in corporate America, in higher-ranking positions,” says Sheryl Skaggs, a sociology professor at the University of Texas-Dallas.
“It’s fantastic, but to say it's enough is missing the boat,” adds Skaggs, who landed a National Science Foundation grantthis year to study so-called “glass ceiling” issues that continue to stifle gender equality in the workplace.
The progress of working women through the ranks to the tops of companies is stalled, says Deborah Soon, a senior vice president at the Catalyst Foundation, a nonprofit group that researches gender-equality issues.
As evidence, Soon cited Catalyst research findings:
- The number of women in the boardroom has stagnated, holding around 15 to 16 percent for the past several years.
- The number of executive officers has not improved appreciably, rising from 13 percent to just 14 percent over the past couple of years.
- In 2010, women held 14.4 percent of executive officer positionsat Fortune 500 companies and 7.6 percent of top earner positions.
The high-profile September 6 firing of Carol Bartz as CEO of Yahoo dropped the number of female chief execs in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to 17, a little more than 3 percent. There were five in 2001, according to the executive search firm Spencer Stuart.
“The number of women and minority board members and executives has remained essentially flat over the past several years, demonstrating a clear disconnect between diversity initiatives and outcomes,” says Barbara Krumsiek, chief executive of Calvert Investments, in the preface of her firm’s influential 2010 report, Examining Cracks in the Ceiling.