Why are women so poorly represented in senior executive roles?
That is the key question of a new Dow Jones study that compares successful and unsuccessful companies and finds that women in leadership roles increases a company’s odds for success.
According to the 2010 U.S. an unprecedented 30 percent of adults over the age of 25 have college degrees, with more women earning Bachelor’s and advanced degrees than men. Yet only 1.3 percent of privately-held companies have a female founder, 6.5 percent have a female CEO, and 20 percent have one or more female C-level executives, the study reports.
The most common positions female executives hold were within Sales & Marketing, accounting for 27 percent of the total population sample.
The separate 2012 Women on Boards survey released last March, found that the percentage of companies with no female directors has fallen beloew 40 percent for the first time. Women hold more than one in ten board seats globally, a 0.7 percent increase from last year. Meanwhile, the percentage of companies with at least three women directors has risen by 1.3 percentage points to 9.8 percent of companies worldwide. Still, that means that less than a tenth of companies have three or more female directors.
Women are better represented on corporate boards in industrialized countries, where 11 percent of directors are women, compared to 7 percent in emerging markets. Norway leads the way in female board representation. Thirty-six percent of its directors are women. In comparison, Italy has only 4.5 percent and Japan only 1.1 percent. The United States has 11.1 percent, the Women on Boards study concluded.
The Dow Jones report suggests a correlation between women in management and a company’s success. The overall media proportion of female executives is 7.1 percent at successful companies and 3.1 percent at unsuccessful companies, the study finds. Further, a company’s odds for success increase with more female executives at the VP and director levels, while for start-ups with five or more females, 61 percent were successful and 39 percent failed.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.