Eighteen women will be running Fortune 500 companies at the same time in 2012.
What do Virginia “Ginni” Rometty, Irene Rosenfeld, and Patricia Woertz have in common? They are part of an unprecedented group of 18 women who are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.
Rometty this week was tapped to succeed Sam Palmisano as the first female CEO in IBM’s century-old history. Also this week, pharmaceutical firm Mylan announced that Heather Bresch will succeed Robert Coury as CEO. Both appointments become effective Jan. 1.
Barring corporate shake-ups, 18 women will be running Fortune 500 companies next year, topping the previous high of 16 women CEOs running these distinguished firms at the same time.
Female CEOs represent just about 3 percent of Fortune 500 Company leaders. This small, but august group includes, Irene Rosenfeld (Kraft) and Patricia Woertz at (Archer Daniels Midland), Andrea Jung (Avon), Denise M. Morrison (Cambell’s Soup), Ursula Burns (Xerox), and Meg Whitman (Hewlitt-Packard).
Studies of the differences between men and women investors have found women to be less confident in their knowledge and abilities. While this attitude can be a plus for the portfolio (women tend to be more thoughtful investors and conduct more research than men), it can be a drawback in the boardroom. An article today in USA Today shared this anecdote told by Rometty. Early in her career, she relates, she expressed hesitance to accept a “big job” because she felt she lacked the experience. Her husband’s response was, “Do you think a man would have ever answered the question that way?”
Women tend to have a more cautious outlook than men. In an October survey conducted by Millionaire Corner, 29.4 percent of women said they would be better off financially a year from now compared to over 34 percent of men. Almost 82 percent of women believe the next generation will not be better off than the current generation vs. nearly 77 percent of men.
Another factor said to be holding women back from taking their place in the executive suite is that in the majority of companies, male leadership is entrenched, as is a so-called masculine management style. In a storywe reported last August, a study found that stereotypical masculine behavior reaped salary dividends to the tune of $10,000 more than perceived friendlier colleagues. “Disagreeable men reap a double benefit,” says the study. “Their disagreeableness helps them better translate their human capital into earnings advantage, and the same behavior conforms to expectations of ‘masculine behavior.’”
The discrepancy between men and women’s salaries has long been a point of contention. Because they earn 81 percent of the median weekly earnings of their male counterparts, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women have a disadvantage in retirement income. They earn less, and so there is less to save for the future.
Millionaire Corner recently reportedon the 10 best companies for women’s advancement. What these companies have in common is a commitment to mentoring and executive coaching, another factor that has long held women back from executive positions.
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.