Women in executive leadership

Apr 30 2010 by Dan Bobinski Print This Article

While working on my Ph.D. in Organizational Learning and Leadership, I've been reading quite a bit lately about organizational structures, leadership, mentoring, etc. One fact that jumped out at me during a recent reading assignment is that only three percent of CEO positions in the Fortune 500 are filled by women. You read that correctly: Only three percent.

I don't have an answer as to "why" (and neither do women, it turns out), but the statistic bothers me.

Interestingly, the "glass ceiling" exists mainly at the CEO level, because the same research shows that women are equally represented in other leadership areas: Women consist of 46.7 percent of the labor force, and they hold 50.8 percent of the management and professional positions.

Many people have opinions as to why this disparity at the senior level exists, but I'd like to explore this beyond the "opinion" stage. In other words, if anyone wants to share their opinion as to "why," I'd be glad to hear it, but please also include some data to back up your opinion. Certainly we have enough qualified female leaders who could sit in those CEO chairs, and we have parity at every other level; so why is it only at three percent at the top?