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An Overview of Women in Business

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Essay title: An Overview of Women in Business

Even though women constitute 40% of all executives and administrative posts (up from 24% in 1976), they are still restricted mostly to the middle and lower positions, and the senior levels of management are almost entirely male domains. A 1990 study of the top Fortune 500 companies by Mary Ann Von Glinow of the University of Southern California, showed that "women were only 2.6% of corporate officers (the vice presidential level up)." Of the Fortune Service 500, only 4.3% of the corporate officers were women - even though women are 6l% of all service workers.

Even more disturbing is that these numbers have "shown little improvement in the 25 years that these statistics have been tracked". (University of Michigan, Korn/Ferry International). What this means is that at the present rate of increase, it will be 475 years - or not until 2466 before women reach equality with men in the executive suite.

This scenario is not any better on corporate boards. Only 4.5% of the Fortune 500 industrial directorships are held by women. On Fortune Service 500 companies, 5.6% of corporate directors are women. The rate of increase is so slow that parity with men on corporate boards will not be achieved until the year 2116 - or for 125 years. (The Feminist Majority Foundation News Media Publishing Inc., 1995)

In 1980, only one woman held the rank of CEO of a Fortune 500 company. This woman came into the top management by inheriting the company from her father and husband. In 1985, this executive was joined by a second woman who

reached the top - by founding the company she headed.

Even though the newspapers are reporting that women have come a long way and are successful in the corporate world, women are banging into a "glass ceiling" that is "so subtle that it is transparent, yet so strong that it prevents women from moving up the corporate hierarchy". (Ann Morrison, The Feminist Majority Foundation and News Media, Inc, 1955) Women can see the high-level corporate positions but are kept from reaching the top. According to Morrison (http// glass.ntml.) and her colleagues, the glass ceiling is not simply a barrier for an individual, based on the person/s inability to handle a higher-level job. Rather, the glass ceiling applies to women as a group who are kept from advancing higher because they are women.

Just as the overall labour market remains sharply segregated by sex, women executives are concentrated into certain types of jobs - mostly staff and support jobs - and these offer little opportunity for getting to the top. The highest ranking women in most industries are in non-operating areas such as personnel, public relations. or, sometimes finance specialties that rarely lead to the most powerful top-management positions. It seems that women are shut out of jobs in the route that is taken by CEOs and presidents and even when they do get a line job it will more than likely not be in the significant part of the business or the type of job that can stamp them as leaders.

It seems to be that the biggest barrier to women in top management levels is the bunch of boys sitting around a table making all the decisions. In

other words when a decision has to be made concerning who should be promoted to management, male corporate leaders are inclined to select people as much like themselves as possible - so there is no astonishment that women are often not even considered at promotion time. The guys at the top look at their former colleagues and old school ties. Women executives are often left out of social activities because they do not fit

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