Roles of women in business is not a new topic for conversation, it has raged for at least a decade and despite the many advancements in society and culture as a whole, change on this front is moving at a glacial pace. While many would argue, there are plenty of women who make more money than men in similar fields. When you look at the structure as a whole, you begin to see the disparity more clearly. First, you must understand that women make up 50.8% of the US population.
Women are seeking higher education in larger numbers than ever before. For example, women earn:
- 44% of master’s degrees in business
- 60% of all undergraduate degrees
- 60% of all Masters degrees
As you can see, women achieve higher levels of education nearly as much or more than their male counterparts do. However, when you begin to look at the percentages of women operating in leadership roles, you see there is a big disparity.
Fortune 500 Companies
Numbers for women in leadership among the top 500 private and publicly traded companies in the nation are dismal at best. The differences become even more pronounced when you look at businesses that have a high percentage of female customers, such as the fashion industry. One study looked at 50 major fashion brands and only 14% had a woman at the head of the company, and only about 25% of the board members were female. This is very unfortunate, not just for women in corporate America but for the companies as well, since a recent study found that companies with at least three women in greater leadership roles showed a 66% better return on investment.
In the fashion industry women make up 70% of the workforce, and yet their representation in leadership is still tiny. Overall women hold less than 25% of the major leadership roles in this industry and even struggle to achieve senior status on the factory floor.
Why is there still such a low number of women in corporate leadership positions today? Is it gender stereotypes? Perhaps part of the problem is the ingrained image of what a CEO “looks” like. Even in this modern age, a corporate CEO is still pictured as a well-groomed white male. Other issues include a lack of high-ranking sponsorships for leadership roles and being unable to land critical positions in profit and loss jobs, which many see as the training field for upper management and leadership.
Women are still being overlooked for advancement and bigger leadership roles, but things are changing. When companies such as Luis Vuitton take it upon themselves to launch programs to identify high potential female employees and set goals to increase women in leadership as a whole, it sends a message to others in not only the same field but also corporate America as a whole. It may still take more time than we would like, but women are slowly but surely achieving the recognition they deserve.
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Photo: 9 To 5 Mac