The Numbers: Female Representation in Executive-Level Positions

The Numbers: Female Representation in Executive-Level Positions

The Numbers

Let’s get down to brass tacks. Women make up half of the world’s population — 51 percent to be exact — and yet, we’re wildly behind when it comes to executive level leadership. In fact, when it comes to the highest paid position of chief executive officers of S&P 500 companies, women hold only 26 positions, or 5.2 percent, of those roles. On the 2017 Fortune 500 List, only 32 of the companies had women employed as CEO’s.

If you aren’t completely stunned by that discrepancy, then I’m shocked. As a woman, I found myself discouraged by the lack of female leadership. What’s holding us back? Why aren’t we being promoted to such an important level?

While the reasons for such a substantial leadership gap run deep, the outcome remains the same. Men still run the world.

Looking at the Numbers

Now, I’ve heard the arguments in defense of the lack of women in leadership. Do women really want these positions? Are they qualified? Well, let’s let the numbers do the talking:

  • Women’s presence in top management positions remains below nine percent.
  • Women earn nearly 60 percent of undergraduate and master’s degrees.
  • Women earn 48 percent of all medical degrees and 47 percent of all law degrees.
  • Women are 47 percent of the workforce and make up nearly 60 percent of the college-educated workforce — at the entry-level.
  • In the legal field, women are 45.4 percent of associates, but make up only 25 percent of non-equity partners and 15 percent of equity partners.
  • In the financial services industry, women are 54 percent of the labor pool but are only 12.4 percent of executive officers, and 18 percent of board directors and none are CEO’s.
  • In the medical industry, women are 34.4 percent of physicians and surgeons, but less than 16 percent of medical school deans.
  • Women control 80 percent of consumer spending in the American economy, but they form only 3 percent of advertising’s creative directors.

*If you’d like more data on the topic, especially how the numbers stack up in the entertainment industry, you can get access to all the above data at the Center for American Progress.*

It’s clear the female population is both educated and ambitious. We’re striving and working towards making the world a better place, and yet, we’re still missing our opportunity to really make a difference. And to answer the question you’ve had buzzing around in your head, let’s talk about who is to blame.

The Root Cause of the Discrepancy

It’s easy to blame this whole dilemma on the Glass Ceiling. “Oh the patriarchy is holding us down!” and so on. But the truth is this: women, we are our own biggest obstacle.

Yes, you read that right. Our decisions, outlook, and self-confidence is the biggest contributor to the lack of female leadership. You’ll never hear me say women are to blame, but I will say this: gals, we’ve got to step up! We’ve got to work together and find creative ways to make our presence known.  I talk about this further in my bookUnlimited, but until you’re able to get your own copy, you can follow my articles here on LinkedIn. I’ll be talking about the three key ways women are holding themselves back and how they can overcome common obstacles. I’m excited to share my research with you, check back soon!

If you have a story you’d like to share, I’d love to hear it! 

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