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Barbara Kellerman

Barbara Kellerman

Barbara Kellerman is on the faculty of at the Harvard Kennedy School and the author, most recently, of Bad Leadership: What It Is, How It Happens, and Why It Matters and Followership: How Followers are Creating Change and Changing Leaders.

Only Two Percent of Fortune 500 CEOs Are Female

It's a question to which neither I nor any one else can properly reply.

Why? Because the numbers of women in high places - in positions of power, authority, and influence - are still so few in number that the data are simply lacking. Here are just a few of the relevant figures, as they apply to the United States in particular:

  • Women hold only 17% of U. S. congressional seats
  • Women constitute only 23.2% of state executive positions
  • Women are mayors of only 11% of the country's 100 largest cities
  • Women constitute only 20% of American judiciary (and 16% of partners in law firms)
  • Women constitute only 2.4% of Fortune 500 CEOs
  • Women constitute only 15% of Fortune 500 board members
  • Women constitute only 20% of key board committees such as audit, compensation, and governance
  • Women earn only a fraction of what men earn: In 2007 the median salary for the 100 CEOs of the largest U. S. companies, all of whom were men, was about twice the median salary of the 100 highest paid women. Moreover the median bonus received by men was almost three times that received by women.
I could go on, for the figures replicate themselves in nearly every profession. That is, the closer you get to the top, to positions of leadership, the fewer the numbers of women. So long as this inequity persists, so long will it take us to know whether having women rule the roost would make a difference and, if yes, in precisely which ways.

By Barbara Kellerman

 |  March 11, 2009; 9:38 AM ET
Category:  Women in Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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