Shocking Data: Women Still Missing from the Top

A common misconception exists: that women have achieved equality and we can all check that issue of the to-do list. Not quite. Not even close. Sure, the Nineteenth Amendment gave women the right to vote just 89 years ago. And in 1972 Title IX helped opened doors for girls and women in sports. Just this year, President Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter Act, reversing a Supreme Court ruling that restricted the amount of time women had to file paycheck discrimination claims. Today we can cite examples of women CEOs, elected officials and star athletes. But they are still only examples. A new report from the White House Project called “Benchmarks” reveals women represent only 18 percent of leadership positions. And the wage gap still exists. Women earn, on average, 78 cents for every dollar a man earns. For women of color, the percentages are even lower.


The White House Project is a not-for-profit organization working to advance women’s leadership in all communities and sectors. Last week, the group invited Care2 to a conference call to discuss the findings of the report. Here is the data by industry sector:


Academia: While women represent 57 percent of all college students, they are only 26 percent of full professors and 23 percent of university presidents. Women faculty members earn, on average, 82 percent of what male faculty earn. That’s a full percentage point lower than what they earned 37 years ago.


Business:  Women represent a mere three percent of Fortune 500 CEOs, six percent of the top paying positions and 16 percent of directors. And yet, women comprise half of the workforce.


Film and Television: Just 16 percent of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, and cinematographers are women. On-screen representation isn’t much better.


Journalism: Despite the fact women have been the majority of journalism school graduates since 1977, they represent only 18 percent of newspaper publishers, 20 percent of radio station directors and 28 percent of television news directors. 


Law: Women are almost half of all law school graduates but they are missing from the partnership ranks at law firms. They are 18 percent of law partners and 25 percent of all judges. And their salaries are sliding. Male equity partners earn $90,000 more than women partners.


Military: Fifteen percent of all military officers are women. This is up just  two percent in 15 years.


Non Profit:  At first glance, the nonprofit sector looks fairly balanced. Women are 45 percent of the CEOS. But when you look at the size of the organizations, the data is less promising. At nonprofit organizations with budgets of $25 million or more, women make up just 21 percent of the CEOS. Women CEOS earn 66 percent of what their male counterparts earn. And yet, the majority of employees (73 percent) in this sector are women.


Politics: Women are 17 percent of the Congress. There are no women of color in the Senate and we have never had a female president or vice president.


Religion: Women represent a majority of churchgoers in this country but men are the majority of clergy.  Women make up 15 percent of Protestant clergy and rabbis and are prohibited from ministerial roles in the Catholic Church.


Sports: Twenty-one percent of college athletic directors are women. Even in women’s leagues, men dominate. Seven of the 13 WBA coaches are men.


It is difficult to reconcile this data when you consider the fact Americans have expressed an openness to women as leaders across all sectors. According to an annual poll conducted by GfK/ Roper Public Opinion Polls on behalf of The White House Project, this comfort level has increased from 77 percent in 2002 to 89 percent in 2007.


And it is imperative to correct this imbalance when you consider that women have surpassed men on the national payroll. The Center for Work-Life Policy and the Concours Group caution that unless we promote women into the leadership ranks we will face a serious shortage of talent in our workforce. Couple that with the growing body of literature that shows the correlation between women at the top and stronger bottom lines, and achieving gender parity at the top becomes more than a social issue. It is a matter of righting our economy, protecting our democracy and strengthening our ability to innovate and lead.

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Nina -.
Nina B8 years ago

The problem is children really. It usually takes a lot of time. I heard in EU and USA fathers help looking after children, but in our country it's still a kind of wonder.

D D P.
Deborah P8 years ago

I have to wonder how much of this situation is due to "the mommy track". And it's not just the Catholics who prohibit women from ministerial positions. Protestants also prohibit them. And it's not just male chauvanism holding women back, it's also religion. And even sadder, women themselves. Until all women wake up from their Stepford Wife roles we will never see true equality. The root of the problem seems to be women ourselves.

Road LessTraveled
Eric Straatsma8 years ago

I just watched a movie about the monopolistic diamond trade, where diamonds are artificially priced high, just to make the profits huge.. kind of like the oil cartel... or the sports franchises, or the drug monopoly.

Anyway, in this movie, they illustrated that they had over 1800 managers or directors, and 0 women... I wonder if this is true for all monopolies where huge amounts of money and profits are at stake?

Christine Pike-Flojo
Christine P8 years ago

Yes, we women can do the same things that mendo !! We are equal.

Pao Carubi
Paola Carrera8 years ago

yes, women can, and must be leading in all kinds of positions, in all kinds of sectors...but women need also to remember who they are, and do what they best can do (and I ll say I m a woman who works in dangerous and challenging places in the midst of political and racial conflict...but I strongly belive in this:) women need to be leaders as moms and teachers, because conscious, educated, prepared, strong women, they are the ones who are gonig to take the next generations into the future. Women should be leaders as professionals, as judges, and as pretty much anything they please, but they should all remember that their role as givers of life is that of givers of light and wisdom...let all women lead in whatever position they feel like...but let them lead knowing that they lead through giving wisely.


Sabrina E.
Sabrina E8 years ago

Of course women can vote. Being a woman doesn't make one something bad or useless, someone who isn't able to lead. This world wouldn't be complete without women in it and women leading in it.

Susana C.
Susana C8 years ago

We, women can do the some things that men!! Or... BETTER

Elizabeth C.
Past Member 8 years ago

I'm surprized that anyone even voted for a "no" or "leaning no" for that question. I don't see what being female has to do with being able to be a leader.

Paloma Cowley
Paloma Cowley8 years ago

it all startid with a look one look that was man of the house, but it's not like that now, woman are strong and thay can and will lead! so yes i think that woman can lead.
( be coz hey my mum dose and she techis me and my 2 sisiters and my brother and she leads by teaching.
but other woman can lead other wase)

Paloma Cowley
Paloma Cowley8 years ago

yes!!! i am just 11 but i am a ferme beleaner in woman's rights : )