By Marie Sullivan, President & CEO, Arizona Women’s Education & Employment
Five decades after the modern women’s movement began, women still lag far behind men in leadership positions.
It’s a difficult concept to grasp when you consider that women represent nearly 51 percent of the U.S. population, earn almost 60 percent of all undergraduate and master’s degrees, and are 40 percent of the American labor force and 59 percent of the college-educated entry-level workforce.
And yet, the Center for American Progress reported that women are only 14.6 percent of executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners and 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs. Women also only hold 16.9 percent of Fortune 500 board seats. Women of color face an even wider gap.
Barnard College President Debora Spar calls the trend the 16 percent ghetto: “if you look at any sector, be it aerospace engineering, Hollywood films, higher education or Fortune 500 leading positions, women max out at roughly 16 percent,” Newsweek quoted her as saying.” “That is a crime, and it is a waste of incredible talent.”
Sure, we’ve made progress. In 1980 there were no women in top executive ranks at Fortune 100 companies.