What Keeps High Achieving Women from Choosing Executive Positions
Statement of the Problem
The 1990’s saw the first generation of women launching professional careers and entering positions of senior management in significant numbers. Many hit the glass ceiling. Others smashed through it. According to a 2006 report from Catalyst, a nonprofit organization tracking women’s success in the world of work, women hold 16.4 percent of corporate officer positions in the United States, up from 8.7 percent in 1996. (Catalyst, 2006, p 2)
However, the researchers at Catalyst did not celebrate this data. The report also found that the rate of increase had significantly slowed from 2002 (up only .07 percentage points) and in some corporations, declined. (p. 3) This rate is disheartening when considering that in 2006, they reported that women made up 46.4 percent of the labor force and 50.6 percent of the management and professional workforce (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2006). In addition, a large number of companies have instituted diversity and inclusion policies that aim to increase the retention and advancement of women. (Catalyst, 2006, p. 3)
The Conclusion and Call to Action on the Catalyst report placed the balance of the blame on the corporations. (p. 36-39) In an attempt to look at what is keeping the Fortune 500 from becoming meritocracies, Catalyst researchers interviewed ten successful women holding senior positions in corporations about the blocks they had to overcome and their views about current inequalities in the workplace.