Where Are The Women

Some women lack mentors, and are often left out of informal social networking opportunities.

May 29, 2004

Decades after the dawn of the women’s movement, when female graduates fill corner offices on Wall Street, the 10 highest-paid people in human resources are all men. The most well-compensated woman is S. LaNette Zimmerman, executive vice president at NiSource Inc., who is 23rd on the list of top-earning human resources executives, according to returns from recent proxy statements submitted to the SEC.

U.S. Department of Labor statistics show that women make up 50 percent of college graduates and 43 percent of the workforce. Corporate women have a preference for staff departments, like human resources, that do not involve direct responsibility for profit and loss, says the New York-based women’s advocacy group Catalyst. Women typically make up 66.9 percent of such departments. The relative number of women begins to decline rapidly higher up the corporate ladder. Catalyst reports that women account for 15.9 percent of all corporate executives, and only 9.9 percent of leaders who have financial responsibility.

By The Numbers

The number of women who are corporate officers has doubled from 8.7 percent in 1995 to 15.7 percent in 2002, according to Catalyst. In the same year, women made up 7.9 percent of the pool of senior executives with "clout" titles, and only 5.2 percent of top earners in an organization.

  1995 1999 2002  

Women  Corporate Officers

8.7 11.9 15.7  
Women with "Clout" Titles 2.4 5.1 7.9  
Women Top Earners 1.2 3.3 5.2  

Catalyst surveyed 705 women corporate officers in 2003 who say they have been denied the opportunity to rise to the top of their field because they lack mentors and are left out of such informal social networking as sporting events. These women say that the negative treatment they receive is premised on the widely held stereotype that a woman’s personal commitments to children and other family members will get in the way of her career.

However, CEOs interviewed in the same study say that women do not get promoted because of a general lack of financial experience. Men’s-rights activist Warren Farrell has another perspective. While women corporate officers he interviewed are ambitious, success as they define it requires work/life balance. In his book The Myth of Male Power, Farrell says, "The fact that few women make it to the very top is a measure of women’s power, not powerlessness."

    Department of Labor statistics also show that women receive 77 cents for every dollar a man earns for the same job. "There is no glass ceiling per se in getting the job; maybe getting paid the same, that will be another issue," says Joe Vocino, a senior compensation consultant at Mercer Human Resource Consulting.

Workforce Management,June 2004, p. 50 -- Subscribe Now!