Women CEOs Gain No Ground This Year

Fortune magazine has released its annual list of women Chief Executive Officers in Fortune 500 companies.  The results?  Women CEOs lead in only 15 of the 500 companies, or 3 percent.  Even worse, there was no gain in female leadership since last year; for every woman who entered the list, another was lost.

One thing that sticks out when looking at the full list is also the predominance of “women focused” companies on the list.  Archer Daniels Midland, Sara Lee, Avon, Kraft, PepsiCo, RiteAid; the company list is dominated with food and cosmetics, as if the women still only have insight to the kitchen and bathroom.

But there are a few bright spots that can be found. Xerox became the first company to replace a female CEO with another female CEO.  And of the 15 women who fill the list, almost 50 percent of them are in the top 100 companies, although unfortunately no one has cracked the elusive top 20 yet.

Still, you have to find yourself wondering, in a year where we have women in some of the most powerful positions in the country, and more female leaders are taking over politics, why is there no growth in gender equity in the business sector?

As I stated in a previous article when Forbes was questioning why so many women were missing from the highest paying jobs in the market, the problem is less that of the female candidates vying for positions, and more because of the men still acting as gatekeepers when it comes to upper level hiring decisions.

Forbes laments that the #1 job, Chief Executive Office (go figure) is only 23% occupied by females, even though women are now graduating with business undergraduate degrees at a rate of 2 to 1 over men.  What they don’t seem to correlate is the fact that most CEO’s are approved by mostly male executives at the same level, or by members of mostly male board of directors.

Five of the top 20 and three of the top 10 positions that women aren’t in are the highest level of supervisory jobs, gatekeepered primarily by members of opposite sex, making it unsurprising women aren’t showing up at a higher ratio.

As women continue to climb up the corporate ladder, winning more seats on boards and as directors of companies, the amount of women being hired in high level positions will continue to increase, too.

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Susan O.
Susan O9 years ago

Fortunately, the CEO of the corporation where I work is a great woman, and an outstanding executive!:


Amitav Dash
Amitav D9 years ago

I think we're going to see change, but not in the old boys club corporate board rooms. The change will come from the new wave of smaller entrepreneurial companies that will displace so many of the big corporations (corporations are dying and will not exist as we know them within the next 10 to 20 years). I see many of those new entrepreneurial companies being operated by women -- most of whom have far more entrepreneurial and business understanding than they may realize (for millennia billions of them have managed their families with little resources and countless challenges -- it's much the same as running a business).

Kathy Javens
Kathy Javens9 years ago

even though things have gotten better for us throughout the decades, women are still being held down by the old boys network. in the 50`s it was simply because we were women. today it may be because they know we can do the job and they see that as a threat? just a thought.

James Sessions
James Sessions9 years ago

This is a very sad statistic that I would really like to see change soon. I agree completely with everything you have mentioned above, and it is definitely time for some changes. The political scene is attempting progression so why not big corporations? Just to be fair to the facts - I think it is worth mentioning that there are some details left out of this article. It seems fair to mention that female CEO's have been appointed to big time companies and have met failure. Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard is a great example. HP is not a kitchen or bathroom organization, but the results were not good from Ms. Fiorina. Of course, I'm not trying to say these statistics are justified because of this one failure. I just think it is important to remember all companies (success and failures) when generating the comments that are made in this article.

Julie F.
Julie F9 years ago

Great article, thank you!

Sexy T.
Sexy Teoh9 years ago


Opheeliya Fire-Kracker
Past Member 9 years ago

...hold onto your chapeaus ladies...for after all is said and done in the next few years ie the subliminal tilt in power...you may have to lift your brim higher to even see "Some light of Day.".......at some point...you may be poor...................and too so poorly advised.............

Dianne D.
Dianne D9 years ago

There seems to be a surpression of women right now. I work in higher education and the women promoted at my university are only as a token but have no real power. During the depression people seem to trust men more than women, but it was men who got us in this mess.

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L9 years ago


carole abajian
.9 years ago

I think it's a trust issue. Men see women and think of their wives,sisters, etc. Not all men, but we have to gain their trust. Also we have to play hardball. Personally I wouldn't work for a corporation, it can be a place to lose your soul. I wonder how women are doing creating their own businesses.