“Chicks In Charge” – Really?

As I waited for my lunch to heat up in the microwave (leftover pasta from last night) at work, I caught a few soundbites from “Rick’s List” on CNN.  Rick was discussing the fact that after women did “well” in the primaries last night, many news readers were treated to headlines such as “Chicks in Charge” and “Year of the Woman.”  His primarily female staff was offended by such headlines because, as they pointed out, women are in charge all over the place. 

To illustrate, Rick then popped up some nifty slides with stats to show us how far women have come.  For example:

  • Governors: 5 states have female governors. 

Wait . . . 10% . .  I’m supposed to get excited about 10%?  Here some other statistics (handily found on the web, mostly from CNN) to mull over:

  • The 111th U.S. Congress has 17 female senators – yep, 111 years of congress and we’ve captured 17 out of 100 senate seats – 17%.
  • Women currently hold 90, or 16.8%, of the 535 seats in the 111th U.S. Congress.
  • 3 of the Fortune 50 companies have female CEOs (Archer Daniels Midland, WellPoint, and PepsiCo).
  • 7 of the Fortune 100, have female CEOs.
  • If you look at the entire Fortune 500, there are 15 female CEOs.  15 out of 500.

Note: there is not a single female CEO of any of the banks responsible for the current financial crisis.  That goes for automakers too. 

So have we made progress?  Using the something is better than nothing approach, absolutely.  But while I’m impressed with these women’s achievements, I’m not impressed with the fact that 485 out of 500 Fortune 500 companies are led by men.  Or that our country is predominantly run by men (although, really this explains so much). 

Women are graduating from graduate schools at a higher rate than men and as of 2009, made up 46.8% of the workforce.  So why aren’t we seeing a proportionate amount of women in high-power positions? 

What do you think?

Is it the “old boy’s club”?  Is it flat-out gender discrimination?  Or are women just making other choices?

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6 Responses

  1. I work in a male dominated environment. Bottom line women are over sexualized by men which hinders sucess and upward movement. Today one of the men in my office suggested that a female at our company that he did not like needed to get taken to a back closet and put on a pole to dance, because that is “all she would be good for”. Needless to say we have yet to suggest that a man we do not favor get on a pole.

    • Horrifying. Seriously. And not unusual unfortunately – I remember an incident many years ago at an old employer where one of the higher ups said “All women are good for is being on their backs.” At the sexual harassment training that followed he asked “What if a woman asks for it by dressing provocatively, etc.?” Ugh.

  2. I think that women may just not be as interested as men to be CEO of a company or be a politician. Obviously we have that maternal instinct and may rather have kids than control a company. I love the architecture stuff I’m doing, but I know that I really just want to be a mom.

  3. I would have to say that women are just making other choices. BUT we are making progress!

  4. This is interesting. Particularly given the very female-sweep of the latest elections, no?

  5. I could probably write a book on this….but I think that in the world of politics, connections are still very important. So although women may be more educated than their male counterparts, many of the old political families are still stuck in the past. For whatever reason, money seems to flow to more male politicians than female. I also think that politics demands A LOT of time and energy. Many women have other priorities in their lives, which might account for the smaller numbers. It is a sad fact though!

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