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In recent years, we have heard much in the news and blogosphere about women ascending to top executive positions at major corporations. The fact is that these stories only cause a sensation because, unfortunately, even well into the 21st century, the corporate gender gap is still a vast rift. Nearly a century after women took to the streets en masse demanding to be enfranchised, and more than a generation after the Women’s Liberation movement, there is still much progress to be made in the business world before anything like gender equality is reached. However, the cracks in the so-called glass ceiling have widened of late, especially with a recent announcement from General Motors.
5 Things Have Changed in a Generation, But Not Much
In 1980, there was not one single female Chief Executive Officer at a Fortune 500-level company. The median age of CEOs was 56 and they were overwhelmingly white males. By 2001, the median age had dropped to 52, and there were 11 women at the top spot of the Fortune 100 list. There has been scarce progress beyond that in the decade-plus since then, however.
4 The Tech World Is Slowly Opening Up to Women
The world of tech companies is one mainly populated by men at its upper echelons. But females are making inroads into this complex corporate culture, with the most prominent player being Marissa Mayer. As the CEO of Yahoo, she runs one of the biggest internet and data companies in America. However, she has also been the subject of frequent criticism, including her apparent indecision over a planned wave of layoffs she subsequently cancelled. Are Mayer’s critics merely attacking her leadership acumen, or is there an inherent layer of sexism as well?
3 Only One Woman Holds Top Spot in a Top 20 Bank
The twenty largest banks in America are by in large holdovers from the days of the Old Boys Club. Only one woman holds the top job a top-twenty United States-based bank. Beth Mooney is the CEO of KeyCorp, which is just barely on that top twenty list as measured by total deposits (in fact, it is ranked as just off that list by some sources). And a wider survey of the “Top 25 Women in Banking” found that Mooney is one of only three women CEOs of any sizeable American bank.
2 The Fortune 500 List Is Almost All Male
According to Catalyst.org (“Changing workplaces. Changing lives” is their motto, so you know they care about this stuff!), in 2013, only 4.2% of the CEOs of Fortune 500-level companies are women. When you expand to the Fortune 1000 list, the number jumps up a dramatic 0.3% to 4.5% of chief executives being female. It seems as though progress toward corporate gender equality has stagnated as of late, or even slipped backward.
1 GM Just Appointed a Female CEO
Finally one of the “Big Three” American automakers has a female chief executive officer. Mary Barra has just been announced as the new head of General Motors. In early 2014, she will not only replace outgoing head Dan Akerson, but she will also finally break the generations-long chain of carmakers’ corner offices being exclusively male enclaves. Barra has been with GM for more than thirty years, so she is as qualified as anyone to take the helm, male or female.